Case Manager Wakeena Corbin was 10-years-old when she started living in foster care in DC. Her mom was an addict who couldn’t take care of her or her sister. “Foster care wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good,” Wakeena says. “What I did in order for me to make it was I took each situation and made it my best I could.”
Wakenna brings that positive can-do attitude now to the women and children she serves at NEW. “I tell the women, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve done that, in another lifetime.”
At the age of 13 Wakeena found a mentor that she is still in contact with today. She lived in a group home and became a teenage mom. “I couldn’t do what my mom did to my child. I wanted to do better for her, so I went to school and bettered myself. I believe in school. School is what changed me. And never ever did I decide to pick up a drug.“
Wakeena earned a degree from Virginia State University, but when she returned to DC, she had nowhere to go and was homeless. “I would go to Bethany House to eat in the morning, and at night I would go to the Lutheran Church.” Soon she saw a job opening for staff support at NEW. She interviewed with Director of Programs James Brown and was hired. With her first check, she was able to pay her first month’s rent on an apartment. Six months later, she was promoted to case management.
Since then Wakeena has worked with NEW mothers, seniors, and kids, helping them find the stability that NEW brought her.
“I love what I do,” she says. “I love Mr. Brown, I love working with Ms. Price, I have learned so much.”
Wakeena has especially enjoyed working with kids like R. who has excelled at Bishop McNamara High School.
“If I can catch the kids at a young age, then maybe we can keep them from becoming a statistic. Because somebody caught me so that I didn’t become a statistic.”
Wakeena’s mom died in 2009, never getting clean, but Wakeena harbors no anger toward her. “I always forgave her,” she says. “I knew that she was sick and she had to do what she had to do. I wish I had known about NEW earlier, but I didn’t and everything happens for a reason.”