Elissa Affeld dedicates her life to the betterment of children in Northwest Indiana. As a Youth Specialist for the CASA program, she works with young adults who are ageing out of the foster care program. She is passionate about fighting for the needs of her children.
Elissa is responsible for kids who are wards of state. All their stories are diverse, and it is Elissa’s priority to meet them where they are. Flexibility is a must in her fast paced, meaningful career. Her kids are either in foster care, residential centers, or detention centers. Many of them never had a parental role model to teach them valuable lessons.
“I teach them independent living skills that they might not have learned anywhere else,” Elissa explained.
The kids Elissa works with benefit in countless ways from her dedication. She is so devoted that she even volunteers her free time as a Court Appointed Youth Advocate. However, Elissa believes she is the fortunate one.
“The best part of being a social worker is that it makes me a better person,” Elissa said. “I learn so much from them and what they’ve been through.”
Elissa finds fulfillment in the Fostering Futures program; a position she had a hand in designing. She got where she is today through dedication and education. She graduated with an Associate of Science in Human Services from Ivy Tech and went on to obtain a Bachelor's of Social Work at Indiana University.
Elissa supports her kids as they chase their dreams. According to Elissa, many of them will become homeless when they turn 18. They also may rely on government assistance and struggle in many areas of adulthood. Elissa works with them to achieve goals and overcome all obstacles.
“I help kids find gainful employment and go to school,” Elissa said. “This helps them, of course, but also impacts the community as a whole.”
For Elissa, the bigger picture is a motivation to keep going. She explained her area of social work is called macrosocial work. With this, she focuses on the larger scale and fights for policy and makes sure it’s enforced.
Elissa is a busy woman. Not only are her hands full of cases, she is also a photographer and mother. She meets this challenge head-on and thrives on the positive changes she sees every day.
“I’ve put in lots of hard work and had my share of struggles,” Elissa said. “But I’ve always persevered.”
Elissa goes the distance for her kids. An example of that is when she recently gave a young woman a list of positive pieces of advice. Her favorite part of that list reads:
"Your self-worth cannot and will not be defined by a number. Not your age, your weight, successes, or failures. You set the bar for your own value by choosing how you value yourself."
Elissa is an important member of the La Porte community, serving a population that is all too often forgotten.