I’d like to introduce you to the inspiration for my monthly blog series “Woman Who Knows…”, Jacqueline Vélez. She does so much for many people as a social worker and still has the time and energy to be a mother, business woman, and student. She’s the perfect example of the woman who does it all.
My name is Jacqueline Vélez. I am Puerto Rican and Dominican. I was born in 1980 in the Bronx, New York. I am the youngest of two. My older brother Edwin, whom I love very much, resides in Puerto Rico. My mom is Milagros Mojica, born and raised in Juncos, Puerto Rico. My dad is Santiago Vélez, born and raised in La Vega, Dominican Republic. They met in the Bronx, New York in the early 1970’s and the rest is history including their divorce in the early 1990’s.
My family moved to Puerto Rico in 1989, the same year as Hurricane Hugo. In 1994, my mom, stepfather and I moved to Washington DC, where I currently reside. I have seen a lot of changes occurring in the city. I must be honest, moving from Puerto Rico to Washington DC as a teenager, I did not embrace the city well. Over time, I learned to adapt and grew to love Washington DC.
I’m blessed to be the mother of an active, playful, stubborn, and sensitive toddler named Elijah. Since his birth, I have been transformed and have discovered more of my inner strength as a woman.
I consider myself a Christian because I have experienced the power of God. I am also a Christian that respects all faiths.
I’m a proud Bilingual Social Worker! My profession is important, challenging, and rewarding.
I am passionate about social justice issues, especially when it involves accessing services and basic human rights such as affordable housing, education, and healthcare.
Another one of my passions is art, especially the art of writing. I love writing because it gives a voice and tells a story. I have written many poems. My most recent piece was in 2014, inspired by my son’s birth. It is my goal to write more in the very near future. ☺
I also enjoy dancing. I feel free and happy when I dance. I enjoy dancing to Salsa, Merengue, as well as other music genres. Movement is so good for the body, mind, and soul.
I love traveling! I have been honored to travel to Israel, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and twice to South Africa. The trips were amazing experiences. Travel is an experience that creates long lasting memories. When I travel I grow, learn, and transform myself. (Please see information about my travel business at the end of this article)
Engaging in my passions, led me to my profession today as a Social Worker. My profession is diverse. Social Workers are trained to work in various field areas. I am the first member of my family to have earned a Bachelors and Master’s degree. I attended Trinity University and majored in Sociology, earning a Bachelor’s in August 2005. I earned a Masters of Social Work from Howard University in May 2014. I am a member of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.
In April 2016, I started working full-time as a Care Manager at Health Services for Children with Special Needs, Inc. (HSCSN), a managed care health plan for DC Residents ages 0-26 who are SSI eligible. My job duties include care management for 35-60 members from ages 5-23, including conducting home visits, conducting assessments based on specific diagnosis, creating care plans, scheduling medical appointments and coordinating transportation services, participating in discharge planning meetings, and other multidisciplinary meetings as needed.
Prior to this position, I worked as a Senior Case Manager at Operation Renewed Hope Foundation (ORHF) supportive services to homeless veterans in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. I have worked as a Community Organizer, Youth Worker, Family Support Worker, Intake Specialist, and Case Manager with diverse populations.
My current position is in Washington DC, which is a diverse city. Since my move to DC in 1994, I have witnessed a lot of changes. Some of the changes are beneficial and look great to the eyesight, but other changes have pushed the low-income community out of the DC area due to gentrification. This resulted in high rent prices and a dismissal of the low-income community voices in the decision-making processes. I admired the perseverance and determination of some long term residents who have remained in the area and continue to advocate for policies that will support affordable housing. These residents refused to have their voices go unheard, continuing the fight to preserve affordable housing, shelters and hold new developers accountable.
Oppression exists in the Nation’s capital and it exists in our society. It is my opinion that in order to dismantle oppression, we must be ready to discuss racism, sexism, amongst other ‘isms. It’s powerful when groups of people who have been historically oppressed come together to discuss their experiences and start organizing to bring about change. In this process, allies are needed to support the work and be educated.
I will continue to be a part of dismantling oppression globally. It is my duty! It has always been my duty to fight for social change, but now that I am a mother, the duty is seen in a different perspective.
On November 14, 2014, at approximately 8:45am I attended my weekly doctor’s appointment. I was asked to go to George Washington Hospital. After taking my blood pressure, my doctor simply said, “They are just going to monitor you.” At around 12 noon, I started calling my clients letting them know I would be delayed but I would be meeting with them that afternoon. I was admitted, instead, due to preeclampsia that same evening.
On November 16, 2014, my heart was filled with fear and excitement as the doctor’s told me the C-section was scheduled for 5pm. I appeared to be calm but inside I was so scared. As soon as the doctors exited the room, I looked at Carlos (Elijah’s father) and immediately burst out in tears. The time had arrived. I prayed. I entered that cold room and in my prayer, to God, I surrendered and said, “You take control.”
My son was born healthy at 4.0lbs. Praise God. I felt a sense of peace that I cannot explain in words.
Later on, I found out that one of my best friends and Hermana (Sorority Sister) and Carlos had planned a surprise baby shower for Saturday, November 16, 2014. Elijah attended his own baby shower the weekend after.
Due to the magnesium treatment, I was unable to meet my son immediately after his birth. I did glance over after he was born and all I saw was his head full of hair and then I passed out. Carlos took so many pictures and ensured that I saw them daily. I was so emotional and eager to meet him. The treatment made me so weak and Carlos helped me the whole time. I’m grateful for his help during my hospitalization.
Finally, when I first saw my son, he appeared so tiny and fragile. I was afraid to hold him because he was so small. As soon as I pronounced his name, Elijah, he smirked. My heart melted and that feeling of motherhood so many of my friends have talked about became real for me at that moment. I remained hospitalized until Thursday, November 22 and Elijah was discharged a day later.
I am eternally grateful to the NICU Nurse Team at George Washington Hospital Center for the level of quality care they provided for my son.
Elijah is 20 months today, thriving and growing so fast. He is healthy, active, and so bright. I thank God every day for my son and his healthy development. He is my joy!
I have to admit I am always exhausted, but he makes me happy with his new daily discoveries, words, facial expressions, behavior and so much more. I am also grateful to Carlos for being an amazing father to Elijah and his brother, Isaiah.
I am sharing this story because it allows me to be vulnerable, helps me to heal, and reminds me of the power of faith and God’s miracle. Almost daily, I read stories on social media or meet mothers who have experienced a lot more complications during the birth of their children. I commend mothers globally for their unselfishness, humility, love, and vulnerability expressed on a daily basis when caring for their children and their family.
I would like to congratulate Miriam Genao on her courage to start her successful blog “Miriam Knows”. I also want to thank her for the honor to be featured on her blog. Thank you because this provided me with the opportunity to step back, reflect, and write.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this piece. Please feel free to provide any feedback or comments.
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- Official job titles: Health Services for Children with Special Needs, Inc. (HSCSN) Care Manager Associate
- All certifications: I am currently studying for the Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) examination to obtain a license in DC and MD. My goal is to take the exam by December 2016- January 2017
- All degrees: BA in Sociology, Masters of Social Work (MSW)
- Schools attended: Trinity University, Washington DC and Howard University Graduate School of Social Work
- Organizations I’m involved with: Women on Change, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc, and Operation Renewed Hope Foundation (ORHF)
- Charities I support Human Rights Campaign.