The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our July TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Aretha Maugé, an Outreach Coordinator & Survivor at Mothers for Justice and Equality.
1. Tell us about your background. How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?
My Name is Aretha Maugé. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago and migrated to the United States in October of 1971 to start a new life in the land of opportunity. For 20+ years, I had done accounting and administrative work in the medical field until I lost my son to senseless violence. Devonté, my only son, was 3 months short of his 17th birthday. On December 31, 2008, Devonté rode MBTA Bus #28 towards Mattapan Square to meet friends. He was the last person killed in 2008. My mother was worried about me not being social enough and angry all the time. Back then, there weren’t many trauma-based therapists that knew how to treat this type of depression. My mother talked me into attending an Empowerment Breakfast with Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE). That day changed my life. I started with the empowerment breakfasts and workshops that helped me change my pain to purpose.
I decided to pursue a career in human services because I wanted to be able to help families get the resources and information they need for their loved ones. I didn’t have many resources and I felt that getting these resources right away, rather than later, would help families begin their healing journeys and know that they are not alone. Knowing that others also share your pain makes it a little easier at times to communicate. The second thing was the knife ordinance fine. A group of mothers, including myself, went down to City Hall and shared our stories hoping to raise the fine for bodegas & convenience stores who sell knives to minors. The fine was $20 at the time, and we were able to raise that fine to $300. This was the beginning of my healing journey.
2. What does a typical day look like for you at your organization?
As a member of Mothers for Justice and Equality, I have taken part in many activities over the past 9 years. No day is the same. I serve as an Outreach Coordinator on the Health Equity & Wellness Team, team player on NTT (Mattapan Area) & Boston Trauma Team Cohort (Boston City area), facilitating monthly Community Conversation Workshop. I do outreach tables at community events, conferences, and health fairs. For the MNTT team, we do canvassing of the area, passing out resource information and checking in on residents to see if they have any needs as well as letting them know what’s going on in their community. We conduct community meetings getting the residents involved in improving their area. I also do a resource information table for other organizations’ events, talking and passing out resources offered by MJE.
3. What is your favorite professional memory?
My favorite memory is the MJE National Conference we have had every year for the past 8 years. At the conference we get to meet and hear some amazing mothers and families share their stories and how they are keeping their loved ones alive by doing something great in their memory. Each story is different, but it is the strength of the survivor and their means to be able to function through their trauma and not let their pain take control is my favorite part of the conference. This lets people know that you are not alone and there are people that have walked in your shoes.
4. This question is from our June TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Maria Delvalle: How do you define success?
For me, success is helping a family in need during a traumatic and difficult time, finding the time to smile, and making a sad/negative time a moment and not a lifetime. Working with the family or mother, and watching them heal, slowly, but at a pace where they can continue to heal, and slowly go back to doing daily activities and taking the moment to breathe in and out, clearing their mind and journaling their thoughts. Some ask how I remain so strong. “It’s Not Okay” to lose your child to violence keeps the memory of my son alive and encourages me to continue to help mothers heal from their loss, because I, too, am a Survivor and I am still healing.
5. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?
When things are not going well in your life, how do you apply self-care to bring yourself back to a positive moment?
Thank you so much to Aretha and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.