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Center for Family Life: Interview Transcripts: Julie Stein Brockway
Julie Stein Brockway

The mission of Life-Lines is to use group experiences to promote individual growth and create a sense of community. We use group experiences to expose young people to opportunities; to experience skill development in a variety of art forms; to use their creativity, their imagination -- all within the context of working cooperatively in a group to produce a variety of special events, whether they be exhibitions, productions...
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Essentially it's a community building model within which individuals are encouraged to develop their own skills -- emotional, social, artistic -- in a variety of different ways.

So, Life-Lines provides an opportunity for people to get involved in a group situation with peers, with older students, in a way that's supervised and still makes demands for growth. If they are not in an organized program at this age, a lot of young people get involved in experimenting with things that are dangerous to their health, or dangerous to the community. Part of the reason that they seek these associations is that it's a developmental need to associate with people your age or in a similar age group.

So, there is a need that we're trying to fill by creating a sense of community in a positive way, with demands, with expectations, with supervision, and with fun.
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Well, I think there's too much emphasis often put on the negative things that kids get into. And it becomes very, I don't know, it's a very big media thing. We talk about gangs or drugs and stuff like that. And I think that's part of what adds to the glamour of all of those activities, and the attraction of them. And, so, rather than focus on trying to pull people out of the negative, what we're trying to do and what I'm trying to do and speak about is what the positive alternative is. I think we know what those dangers are. It's just that I think that so much emphasis, and so much funding and programming, goes into the prevention of, or the avoidance of, drugs, or gangs, or violence -- and really, the more important thing is to teach people how to work and how to be a member of a community in a positive way. Those are the skills that we're really interested in building here.

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I guess I'm somebody who is attracted by a challenge. Just tell me we can't do it and we'll be sure to find a way we can. I'm often quoted as saying that there are no such things as problems, just challenges. So I really believe that; not that there are no such things as problems, but that most things can be looked at from a perspective of a challenge, and with creative thinking and with more than one mind, amazing things can happen.

So, I guess I'm also sustained by the fact that no two days are alike on this job. I've met so many incredible people, and been a part of people's lives at all kinds of times, and I've been privileged to work with so many amazing staff members and colleagues, both in terms of the work that we do here at the school, the young people, the artists, and the social workers at the Center, and the sisters. I don't ever feel like I've stopped growing professionally. I feel professionally challenged, aggravated, overwhelmed, but sustained.

I try to imagine another life where I would do something that would have more confined hours and a little more predictability ... and I don't know. Not yet.

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I've been at the center for seventeen years. At the time I started, there was very little group activity, group work, going on at the center. I came because I wanted to be a camp director. I wanted to bring my years of camp experience and arts experience that I felt should be a right and not a privilege. I wanted to develop some type of art center for youth. That was my initial thing. There was nothing like that here.

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Yeah, during the 17 years that I've been here, there have been many times where I have wondered about staying. The most amazing thing is that sometimes I wish I didn't love the job so much, because it is challenging economically and the hours are incredibly taxing on family life. I've been at the Center through my entire professional adult life, from single life to married life to having children of my own. It's a real challenge to balance the sense of community here with the sense of community at home.

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