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Some of the tools Mahalia uses to help kids develop coping mechanisms, (L- R starting at top): liquid timer, soft stuffed animal, essential oil, tangle jr. hand fidget, stress ball, another type of tangle jr. fidget, tea, hand and foot message ball, aromatheraputty (scented silly putty).

Some of the tools Mahalia uses to help kids develop coping mechanisms, (L- R starting at top): liquid timer, soft stuffed animal, essential oil, tangle jr. hand fidget, stress ball, another type of tangle jr. fidget, tea, hand and foot message ball, aromatheraputty (scented silly putty).

MAHALIA

TEAMSTER: MAHALIA LECLERC

Worksite: Edgewood Center for Children and Families

Years on the job: 3 

Job title: Therapeutic Behavior Services Coach

What that means: "TBS Coaches are a short-term intensive service. We work with children who are at risk of losing their current home placement, usually because they have behavioral problems that are making it so they can't continue to live where they're at. I provide behavioral coaching to the kids and then also to the parents as well, trying to provide psycho-education around the kid's mental health needs, helping the parents manage the behaviors so that they can continue to stay at their current placement.

A lot of these kids are very hilarious and awesome. I don't think I've met one kid that doesn't have something really likable about them and unique about them. I enjoy all those aspects."

On being a Teamster: "I think when people find out what I do for the first time I often get this reaction of 'Oh my gosh, you're a saint for doing that!'. I try to fight back a bit on that because I get a lot out of this job. But there's another factor to that that I think is harmful, where if people assume you're an angel for doing this out of the goodness of your heart, then how dare you ask for more money. It can create this mentality where people doing some of the hardest work with some of our most vulnerable youth are really being taken advantage of and not being paid enough.  The Teamsters is such a large union and they have a lot of political power. During our negotiation process we were able to advocate for increased funding from the city and were actually able to get a wage pass through. I think it's interesting negotiating with a non-profit cause it's like there isn't a lot of money there, but we were able to help them find sources to help raise wages."