Hello Fellows: Meet Bobby Morrow
The Kingston Fellowship is an honor awarded to Wilder employees annually from the Kingston Fellowship named endowment fund established with a lead gift from retired Wilder President Tom Kingston and his wife Mary, and contributed to by many friends of the Wilder Foundation.
In March 2016, Wilder awarded fellowships to 11 employees spanning a variety of professional backgrounds. The fellowships help these professionals to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and develop innovative programs to address community concerns.
"In Hello Fellows," we introduce the 2016 Kingston Fellows. This week, we catch up with Bobby Morrow.
What is your role at Wilder?
When I started at Wilder I worked with children in our Family Supportive Housing Services. Now I’m a family case manager for Wilder’s rapid rehousing program, the ROOF Project. We work with families on permanent housing, obtaining employment, and the wellbeing and success of their children. Children need permanent housing in order to thrive and to be successful in school. Because we are focused on rapid rehousing, our families can be with us from 12-23 months, so it’s important to start with the family right away. We really want to help them achieve their goals.
Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I worked in an after-school program when I was in college. I realized how much the kids looked up to me, and I decided to work with children, especially kids that may not have all the resources they need. I came from poverty myself; my family wasn’t very well off at all. I wanted to try to make children understand that they can make it out of this situation. I really focus on education with them, and I focus lot on connecting families to reliable resources and helping in any way I can.
What will you use the Kingston Fellowship to achieve?
The fellowship will provide support as I continue working on my master’s in education at Hamline University. By obtaining a master’s in education and working in social services, I think I will be able to help families get the best of both worlds. Education can create the foundation for youth upon which they will build the rest of their lives.
What unmet need in human services does your fellowship fill?
I think there are a couple unmet needs. Sometimes in social services, counselors don’t have a background in the education system. I think that being able to have that dual lens – education and social services – will help me better navigate systems. I will not only be connecting resource to need in human services, but I will personally be the resource for the families in need.
Second, there are not many males in this industry, and there are not many males of color in this industry. I always hear about how we need more black teachers and we need more black men to provide role models for the community. I’ve always felt like I wanted to continue on that path to stay a strong black role model. If our youth of color are to survive and participate fully in society, increased activism, advocacy, and support by the professionals of color in community is absolutely critical.
Do you have an experience about diversity and cultural competence that you have encountered in your work?
Last year, through Ujima (an employee resource group for employees of African descent), we took part in a career day at Gordon Parks High School and Central High School. A few of us talked about our backgrounds, where we grew up, some of our education, and what we currently do. Nobody had a “typical role.” There was a case manager, a housing specialist, a Kofi therapist, and a child care director, among others. There were a lot of questions from some of the students, and it made me realize that these students aren’t stepping outside of the box. They didn’t know what these positions were, they were only thinking about careers such as doctors or lawyers or sports athletes.
I was thinking of my high school years and how I hadn’t known what I wanted to do for a career. All I knew was that I could play basketball and I was getting a scholarship and going to college for it. This experience was crucial for the youth because a lot of youth don’t know what careers are out there. It’s very important for youth of color to see people like them who are successful. You can’t be who you don’t see.
Bobby Morrow is a family case manager for the ROOF Project in Wilder's Family Supportive Housing Services.