March 16, 2023
"I think the community has come to know Gerard Place as a safe place to get assistance."
Rosa Zarrabal came to Gerard Place as an intern in October 2022 while studying social work at Buffalo State College. Recognizing her potential and value to the organization, Gerard Place hired her as a social worker after she graduated.
She notes that the greatest needs in the community evolve around affordable housing, food insecurity, dependence on drugs and alcohol, and teen pregnancies.
Rosa was drawn to work at Gerard Place because of the many ways the organization transforms lives. The food pantry and hot food served Mondays and Wednesdays ensures there is a hot meal. Community classes and the GED program provide community members with an affordable option to advance their education and increase upward mobility. Community events and in-house programs like the Healthy Mom and Baby Program, Homeless Prevention Program, and Senior Circle Nutrition Program help so many people in the community.
According to Rosa, when she interacts with clients, she shares power through a person-centered perspective. This means she listens to clients without judgement and considers their socioeconomic background, environment, and available resources to assist clients with their needs and goals.
A native of California, she moved to Buffalo ten years ago. She describes her experience and professional growth in the last few months as invaluable.
"Gerard Place has been a safe place to develop my knowledge, curiosity and leadership skills," she said. "It is important for me to be in a professional setting that aligns with the values, ethics, and competencies of the social work profession, and Gerard Place does that seamlessly. Gerard Place has made me a social worker and I am extremely grateful."
The leaders of Gerard Place are not afraid to fight for resources for our ever-changing community needs. For example, the plan to add a dental and mental health clinic will bring valuable resources to this community not offered elsewhere.
"Whether they are first-time community walk-in clients, long-time clients, or students for a short time, the proverbial door is always open," she said. "With the many programs offered we are always busy and there is a palable atmosphere of serice and energy."
"Everyone at Gerard Place is doing amazing work with every population in this neighborhood and it's exciting to play a small part in that," Rosa adds.