A Peek Into Our Internship Program

Boy and mentorby Shana Pogrow MSW, Director of the Parental Guidance Center

EPIC Family (formerly Yedidim) started off as a small ‘mom and pop’ organization and has grown to be a very professional and impactful one. We are proud to announce that EPIC has been chosen by Wurzweiler School of Social Work as a location for students to do their fieldwork. The internationally acclaimed social work school has a program that allows students living in Israel to complete their fieldwork requirements in Israel, while spending their summers studying in the USA. The fact that WSSW has chosen EPIC as a potential fieldwork placement is testament to the fact that they view us as an impressive and professional organization making a difference in peoples’ lives. 

Students are exposed to the many aspects of the helping profession, including case management and therapy. These students are supervised by EPIC’s own social work staff. Having students enables us to offer services to parents and families at an extremely subsidized rate.

We are proud to introduce you to one of our students, Tali Gewirtz, who interned at EPIC Family last year.  She became such an integral part of our program that we actually hired her to stay on and work as a staff member this year! See below for some of Tali’s thoughts from her time as a WSSW student in our organization.

Can you give us an overview of your responsibilities as a student intern?

I received a lot of hands-on experience through my various responsibilities in the mentoring department. 

I was responsible for setting up mentor/mentee relationships. This was accomplished through doing intakes with parents to hear and understand the child’s needs and challenges. I then worked with the head of the mentoring department to choose an appropriate mentor. I supervised mentors throughout the year and worked to ensure that the relationship was a smooth and productive one. It was also necessary to keep in touch with the parents on a regular basis and other professionals and organizations when needed. 

I also did therapy with mothers where I learned to sit with them in their pain. I was able to hear them and support them and help them in their healing process. I gained many tools from this work.

What would you say makes EPIC unique as an organization?

The warmth that exists among the staff seeps down to the families as well. I have never felt this level of camaraderie anywhere else that I have been. The respect and appreciation that staff members have for each other filters down to the families as well.

What have you learned that you will apply as a social worker in the future?

I love the approach at EPIC when working with a child. In line with their vision, a holistic approach is taken. One doesn’t just look at the child but rather at the family and its entire system. Viewing the struggles in context is so important. This is very much in line with what we have been taught in school, not to look at the child in a vacuum but as part of a greater entity. This 2-prong approach that we use at EPIC ensures a much higher success rate in our work. 

What would you say has been your greatest personal gain while interning at EPIC?

I learned from the EPIC staff to be extremely sensitive to others. One never knows what people are experiencing and we always have to keep that in mind. I also have gained much humility through my work, especially in therapy sessions. We do not necessarily know more- rather we are ‘Shlichim’ towards healing and we are there with others as we go through their journey together. Everyone has struggles and everyone has their journey. I learned how to appreciate that fact at EPIC this past year. It has been an honor to be allowed to be a part of this journey. We have professional training but the parents know their families best. Together as a unit I firmly believe that I have been able to help parents navigate their individual journeys.

What was most meaningful in your work within the organization?

It was extremely meaningful to me to learn from the way the EPIC Family staff conducts itself. I very much appreciated the fact that the organization is guided by professional principles yet Daas Torah is key. I found this to be beautiful and somewhat unique. 

Everyone constantly supports each other, working together to achieve the best results possible. A key factor of each staff meeting is sharing. The way everyone gains strength from each other is so special. There is a clear underlying theme that ‘we are not alone in the work we do’ and that message is transmitted to the parents as well. They are not alone. Once an EPIC family, always an EPIC family. They know they can always turn to the organization and the door will be open.

As my internship year was ending, I realized how much I did not want to leave this unique organization that had become family to me. I was grateful when offered the opportunity to continue as a staff member. In a similar fashion, mentors and parents stay connected. It is hard to leave such a unique place.

I would like to end by saying how much I gained during my internship year. The staff took a tremendous interest in my journey as a student. They encouraged me and supported me every step of the way. It was so clear to me that they were invested in my growth as a social worker. They offered me many opportunities and most importantly, believed in me. I look forward to many years of paying that forward to others.