Auberle is committed to implementing new, innovative, holistic services to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of those we serve. The My Best Self Program is a shining example of this commitment in action.
Established in 2017, My Best Self provides culturally specific self-care products for skin and hair — as well as guidance and support on how to use them — to children, teens, and young adults involved in CYF services. It is a program of the Ward Home, a subsidiary agency of Auberle, that teaches young men and women how to live and thrive on their own.
“My Best Self was a direct response to a need brought to light by a judge in the Allegheny County Family Division,” explained Mia Merideth, Program Manager of My Best Self. “It was evident to the judge that many foster parents did not have access to the resources or guidance to help their foster child properly care for their hair and skin, because — to no one’s fault — they didn’t know how to care for African American skin and hair.”
Beyond self-care kits and products, My Best Self empowers youth and families to take control of this aspect of their well-being, promoting confidence, self-worth, and respect for people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Participation in the program has soared, nearly tripling since its launch just three years ago.
After receiving a referral from a case worker, Mia and her team reach out to the family or congregate care facility to identify the unique needs of the youth referred to the program. They then assemble a culturally specific self-care bag to be delivered every three months. Mia and her team also conduct in-person workshops and training where young people, their caregivers, and their foster parents can all learn how to use their products together.
Though self-care and personal hygiene may seem like small, basic things to some people, Mia explained that promoting these practices and providing firsthand support has a huge impact on youth and families — much bigger than most people realize.
“We ask the young people to fill out a survey on My Best Self, and the comments we receive about how it has positively affected them just melt my heart,” Mia shared. “There’s so many aspects of life that they have no control over, and this program gives them control over how they look, feel, and present themselves. They pick the products they like best, and they choose their favorite hairstyle and learn to maintain it. It reaffirms that they are worthy of self-care, that they deserve to feel good about themselves. The skills they learn and the affirmations they receive are invaluable as they move throughout life and transition into adulthood.”
“One day, I dropped off a self-care bag at the home of one of our youth in the program. I got a text message from the young lady later that day, and it was a bunch of the ‘tears of joy’ emojis, all in a row,” Mia remembered fondly. “That says it all.”