We are thankful for Tracy.
As we approach the holiday season, we want to remember all the amazing work JCCA staff do to repair the world, child by child. Until Thanksgiving, we’ll be taking some time each day to highlight a member of our inspiring team. As the days get shorter and colder, we hope these stories will be a source of brightness and warmth.
Residence Supervisor, Edenwald Center
As a Residence Supervisor at Edenwald Center, Tracy Iorio oversees 14 youth with developmental delays and dual diagnoses of autism and other behavioral issues, in addition to supervising nine staff. She takes on many roles on campus, including that of parent figure, role model, mentor, teacher and friend. She manages all the needs of ‘her’ kids, including medical appointments, clothing necessities and school supplies.
Tracy is one of the first staff members that youth on Campus come to when they feel troubled or need advice about complex issues including LGBTQ concerns. “I think the kids are comfortable coming to me,” she says, and feels that after 14 years of working on the Campus, things have never been better for youth with LGBTQ issues. She continues, “We are trained and retrained so it’s really made a difference for our kids. We are so much better equipped on how to talk with them about their problems now—we’re much more knowledgeable. It’s important to listen and try to understand. I remember when Cyrus, a 13-year-old boy who was worrying about his identity, came to me and spoke about his desire to wear dresses and makeup. I tried to reassure him, and even ended up giving him makeup tips! I think that helped in making him feel better about himself.”
Counseling is ongoing and has paid off. “Recently we had two young boys come out as girls and they’re now living in a girls’ cottage. Because of the counseling we’ve done with our youth, these two aren’t getting bullied and they’ve been accepted by their peers. And whereas ten years ago, it was a big deal when a young girl wanted to wear a tuxedo to the prom, now boys come to the event wearing dresses and nobody bats an eye!” she adds.
Social work at JCCA runs in the family—Tracy has been working on the Campus for 14 years and her mother, a retired milieu counselor, was there for 15. “It was a different time then, but when I was little, we always had kids from the Campus come to our house for Christmas. It was special.” Although inviting residents to staff homes is no longer practiced, Tracy’s commitment to JCCA’s youth is unwavering and she always goes the extra mile with the 14 boys in Edenwald Cottage 16. “My heart and soul are in that cottage,” she says.