4554 N. Broadway, Suite 329 
Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 303-0700
Fax: (773) 303- 0702

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Meet LIFT-Chicago Advocate, Julia

Location: Chicago
Affiliation: Wheaton College

A senior at Wheaton College, Julia Block spent her fall semester living in Chicago to complete a certificate in Urban Studies.  Julia thought that working with LIFT would be a perfect internship to compliment her passion for service while fulfilling the certificate’s requirements.

Julia has been passionate about service throughout her whole life.  She spent 15 years living in Peru with her parents, who are missionaries. Site Coordinator Hannah Kropp says, “Julia contributes a unique experience to the team. She is one of our few volunteers who grew up in a different country and uses this experience to shape her work.”  Julia’s strong Spanish skills have been particularly helpful for working with clients who don’t speak English.

Although Julia had experience working with impoverished populations in Peru, her work at LIFT proved unexpectedly difficult.  “LIFT is much more emotionally challenging than I thought it would be, and I have become very invested in it,” she says.

“In Peru, there is no government assistance and there aren’t many opportunities.  In the U.S., we have a lot of government programs, but they are not all working.  There are more opportunities here, but that doesn’t mean there are enough opportunities for everyone.”

As a member of the Uptown employment intern team, Julia has been a huge asset.  Along with fellow interns Claire and David, Julia has helped put on four employment workshops for clients throughout the semester, with topics ranging from networking tips to interview skills. These workshops are a great way for clients to come together as a community and talk about best practices and common struggles.

In addition to workshops, Julia has conducted many one-on-one meetings with clients.  Through this work, Julia’s perspective on poverty and opportunity has changed.  “I grew up with the mentality that if people tried hard enough, they would be able to get a job and succeed.  I have now realized that people get caught in situations and have traumatic experiences that make it hard for them to beat the odds.  I have realized how interconnected problems are.”

Julia graduates in May 2012 and plans to continue working in urban communities.  She hopes to work in a church setting with youth.  She is certain that her experiences with LIFT will help in her future endeavors.