Meet Your Neighbor: Lili Gregory Loor

I'm originally from Southern California, so when I moved to New York last August, it was a shift for me. Recently, I saw snow for the first time and felt like I was inside a Robert Frost poem. When I finished my Social Work undergrad in San Francisco, I decided New York's Columbia University was the right place to pursue my passion for working with incarcerated youth.

From a young age, I was always attuned to people’s trauma. The more I got into the Social Work field, the more I realized the lack of empathy within the criminal justice system, particularly with marginalized populations. So when I started my Masters program, I tried to go to as many workshops and classes as I could and am eager to keep learning more. When youth are incarcerated and then released, there’s a higher likelihood they’ll commit another crime because of the lack of resources. I believe everyone is worthy of receiving support and services. I want to be the person that somebody can sit with and say, "For the first time, I was treated like a human.”

As part of my Masters program, I am interning with youth programs at QCH's Forest Hills Community Center, where I provide counseling for participants ages six to thirteen. I believe therapy doesn’t have to take place in a closed room; it can happen on a walk, in a coffee shop or just in conversation. If a participant is full of energy, sometimes we play outside or take a walk. Back in California, I once had a great session in a tree! The young girl climbed up there, so I did too. That’s what she needed at the time.

I plan to stay in New York when I graduate. There’s so much work to do and such a high need for Social Work and activism. I just need to get some snow boots.

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