By Sakena Hillman
When I began volunteering for Teen Living Program (TLP) two years ago, I had no idea my passion for helping Chicago’s homeless teens would one day lead to a fully-paid social service leave of absence.
Fast-forward to 2012 and that’s exactly what happened when I was selected, along with 10 other dedicated employees, to participate in Xerox’s Social Services Leave program. This incredible program gives Xerox employees the opportunity to temporarily step away from their full-time responsibilities to make a meaningful, positive impact in the community where they live and work. When given the opportunity to apply for the program, I knew I had to do it.
TLP is an organization that provides stable housing and supportive resources to homeless teens in Chicago. Their mission is particularly sensitive for me. As a teenager, I experienced periods of homelessness and have similar stories to that of the youth I work with at TLP. Through the support of family and close friends , I maintained physical and mental health, and finished college. TLP plays a similar role for their youth by providing a safe home, nurturing environment and sincere accountability. I am honored to work alongside such talented people who share my passion and dedicate themselves to this cause, my cause.
I am halfway through my 12-month leave. During that time, I have beenable to expand my role by working more closely with the youth, designing and facilitating developmental workshops, streamlining TLP’s volunteer programming, and building corporate partnerships to benefit the agency’s programs.
I am so grateful to Xerox and the Xerox Foundation for allowing me this extremely rewarding experience. I am proud to work for a company that invests in our community so generously.
Caption: Xerox’s Sakena Hillman checks in with one of TLP’s teens.