It’s been 12 years, and thankfully he’s still with us here at Esperanza. “Ed is part of the woodwork around here, I can’t imagine Esperanza without him” said friend and colleague of 12 years Trish Ortiz. Described as a bit of a tough guy who is funny, sharp witted, an amazing clinician and someone who will always go the extra mile, Eduardo, or Ed as we know him, Rivera is a Field Supervisor at Esperanza and currently heading up the new mentoring initiative.
Ed came from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn when he was 10 with his mother and siblings, was later joined by his father and remembers the time as happy. He learned English by watching Sesame Street and was by all accounts a Mama’s boy. It was the 80’s and Ed remembers lots of time hanging out in his neighborhood with friends, pushing boundaries but also doing the right thing, “coming from Puerto Rico, there was an expectation to do well.” Currently armed with 2 masters degrees in Forensic Psychology and Forensic Mental Health Counseling, Ed has been helping to lead the way at Esperanza nearly since its inception. He believes that a fundamental dignity should be afforded to all people and that everyone has strengths to be built upon. Esperanza’s Director Jenny Kronenfeld says Ed is the man, whenever I need a reality check, Ed is my first stop.
The Esperanza blog had a chance to sit down with Ed and ask a few questions, here are his answers:
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A fireman shiny red suit, big truck, fire.
What brought you to Esperanza?
I was working with adults at Rikers, with people who had been in the system for so long, and I began to wonder if I could intervene earlier.
Favorite thing about working here?
We have a structure here but what I like is that we listen to our clients, we really hear them and what they need rather than just following a standardized approach. And the people who work here… we have cool people. Every day is different, it’s an adventure that doesn’t get old. We work hard to meet the challenges and you see the difference in your work. You need to be flexible, there are many ways we can intervene but we know how to work with youth and how to work really hard for our clients.
Being able to roll, working on multiple things at a time, keeping your energy up, constantly engaging systems, holding people to task to do their jobs. It’s hard and you have to be well mentally, physically and spiritually to do this job. There is no end, how do you work too hard for someone?
What book do you think everyone should read?
What music are you listening to these days?
The Cure, literally today. But I listen to a lot of stuff.
What is your idea of happiness?
Knowing things are well and that you’ve done what you could, looked out for those around you. It’s simple really, it’s not about things. But yet it’s hard. You have a good day, see your family, see something your kids did at school and you know you’re in it.
What is your idea of misery?
Being hopeless, a complete lack of hope. If there is hope then there is still a chance. Pain is not misery, being afraid is not misery, but being hopeless – that’s misery. You’ve got to have esperanza. (Esperanza means hope in Spanish)
If you could have any job other than this one, what would it be?
A builder or engineer, something creative where you can see it develop and watch it grow and know that it was well built and watch it last.
Finish this sentence Before I die, I want to….
Be alone – let me explain, not disconnected from people but with myself. At a place where I can experience the planet, nature, living. For example, if I am hungry then getting food by tending a garden. If I am cold not just turning on a thermostat but figuring out how to make myself warm. To experience quiet, to really be connected.