Social Services Provider: Build Trust As Step 1


When you meet with someone for the first time, one of the best things you can do as an initial step is set yourself a goal of establishing trust. Yes you likely have an agenda in mind of assisting this person move from being dependent on Social Assistance or Welfare to financial independence. However, recognize that while this might be the ultimate goal, you’ve got to get at where they are now on that path to the goal; there could well be several steps they need to take before that final achievement.

This is the dilemma facing so many Caseworkers in the Social Services system; with sizable caseloads and seeing people infrequently, how does not take the limited time they have and just rush full speed at the end goal? After all, there’s administrative paperwork to complete that fulfills legislative requirements to be done which also restricts the time available to discuss employment. Given the meeting might be an hour maximum, there’s not much time to do what needs doing.

One of your first goals should be to find out what’s going on from the person themselves. You can’t do this well if you’re the one doing most of the talking, and you can’t do it at all if you’ve got this preconceived plan on what you’ll talk about and what you’ll get done. My suggestion is in setting up the meeting, invite the person to come ready to initially talk about whatever is on their mind. What would they like to talk about or ask? Even when you’re the one requesting the meeting, you can start by turning away from your computer monitor, giving them your full attention and asking.

When you immediately shift the focus to what they want to talk about, what’s important to them in that moment, you might surprise them. After all, they may be more accustomed to having past meetings driven entirely by the Caseworkers they’ve previously met with. While they might be expecting to sign some papers, talk about their job search and do it all only to remain eligible to get financial help, they really might not think you care to hear what’s going on. In fact, they could be quite suspicious; unsure if they could trust you enough to tell you their truths for fear of having their money put on hold.

Ask yourself this however; isn’t it preferable that you find out what barriers this person is really experiencing that are preventing them from focusing on their job search? As many of us know, there’s often multiple things going on. In addition to diminished self-esteem and a lack of confidence, the person might have a poor landlord their dealing with, no funds to keep their phone activated, issues of isolation from family, past or present abuse and of course transportation problems. Expecting such a person to, ‘get serious and get a job’ is going to fall on deaf ears. No that’s not true… they’ll hear that message and tell you what they know you want to hear but not really do what you believe they’ll do – they can’t!

Step 1 really is building trust. Create the climate where the person feels they can share honestly how they feel, what they cope with daily and where their priorities are and you’re on the way to truly helping. Now be cautioned, you’ll need to use your ears more than your mouth and listen to them. When you hear of their struggles and challenges, you could really be helpful by labelling the skills you hear them describe. They might tell you they’ve been emotionally and physically taken advantage of since they were a teenager, they held down a job for 4 years before losing it when they had to move to get away from their abusive partner, and since relocating to their present apartment they haven’t met any friends and their new landlord keeps putting off needed repairs. Maybe what you hear is resiliency and courage.

Resist the urge to fix the problems right away. Have you heard this before? There’s a good reason for this advice. So often in the role of Helpers we start thinking of the solutions while the person is still sharing their problems. We want to fix what’s wrong; just as we would if we were parents hearing our children tell us their struggles. But you’re not a parent in this case. You risk losing the opportunity to forge a true connection if you rush to solve the problems you hear. You also reinforce their dependency on others to solve their problems instead of letting them arrive at the solutions themselves and reinforcing their belief in their own abilities to do so in the future.

Now I don’t suggest you hold back on sharing possible solutions. Sure, share your resources and places to get the help they could use. As for a job, sure it might be their goal. However, to get AND KEEP a good job, they may need to discuss some things first that increase their chances of long-term success. Giving them the green light to focus on other things and have your support might be the best thing you can do for this person at this moment and remove the job search need entirely for a period.

This is their life journey. You and I? We’re just some of the good people they meet along the way who are privileged to be included.

 

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The Importance Of Shifting The Agenda


I was really looking forward to our one-on-one resume appointment; after all, she’d been smiling and engaged all through the group presentation just a few days before. Adding to that positive first impression, she’d called ahead to advise me of a slight conflict with another appointment and respectfully asked to make a small change in our appointment time. (This kind of respect for other people’s schedules goes a long way). Finally, she’d also mentioned that she had, on her own, taken efforts to use the ideas I’d shared with the group; full marks on initiative and personal accountability!

So as I say, I was really looking forward to our meeting.

It started off well enough as she was on time, nicely dressed and there of course was the nice smile I’d remembered. As requested, she’d come prepared with a job she was interested in applying for too; a part-time Receptionist position with a local funeral home as it turned out. While she didn’t have a résumé and we were starting from scratch, she had obviously put pen to paper and with this data, it would be quicker to take what she’d put down and re-work and re-word things to fit the posting.

Ah, this was going to be a nice time together…probably just an hour I’d imagined.

After we had reviewed the job requirements from the posting, highlighting each one to make sure we’d note these somewhere on the résumé, I remarked that her last employment was some 7 years ago. “Why the gap?” I wondered to myself; so I asked.

“I took time off to start and raise a family…and I got a divorce.” Everything had been normal until she mentioned the word, ‘divorce’. In a seconds she was fighting for tears, looking expectedly around for a tissue, and not seeing the box behind her, was wiping away the tears from her eyes and apologizing profusely.

Instantly I realized the résumé could and would have to wait. This kind of thing happens more often than people might think. Years of working with people have taught me a number of things, and one is that for someone to break down so quickly at the mere mention of divorce suggested to me it was fresh, the rawness still very new, and yes, there was the distinct possibility she’d been on the receiving end of some kind of abuse.

As it turned out, it was a case of past abuse, for when asked if she had someone she might talk to about her experience, she mentioned she was seeing a Counsellor provided through a local women’s shelter. The mere mention of the shelter told me enough, as I wasn’t the right person nor was this the right time to have a counselling session. Still, it costs nothing to give someone your full attention and pause, assuring them that its okay to express their feelings.

I wondered if this woman was ready to work. I mean, it’s extremely probable that she’s going to be asked about the 7 year employment gap on her résumé in an interview, and would she share to them what she shared with me, and would this repeat itself anew?

When I very gently asked if she was ready to work, she said that she had original been thinking about volunteering to get going again, but the part-time job appealed to her as she hoped it would be through the day so she could still take care of and see her 3 children. “How silly of me though! I think I should just forget the job and look at volunteering somewhere.”

This could be a classic response of someone who was told things like, “No one will ever hire you” or, “You’ll never make it without me” etc., so it was really important to point out a couple of things to boost her fragile self-esteem. First of all, she was still sitting with me and wanted to do a résumé, which while she had broken down, she hadn’t gathered up  her things and bolted for the door. So it was important to her. Secondly, she had the skills required for the posting; and if granted an interview, she’d feel good knowing the résumé worked. If she got a job through the interview, it would bring added stress – but good stress, and if she didn’t get the job, she’d be no worse off for the experience.

Well we finished that resume together, and near the end, I again pointed out some positives. The smile was back on the face for the world to see, and she genuinely liked how we had marketed herself on the résumé which made her happy.

When you work with people in this field, it’s key to remember that the agenda you have all nicely laid out shouldn’t be so rigid that its importance outweighs the people sitting before you. While not a formal counselling session, this had been more than a résumé appointment.

This interaction highlights the difference between working solely with a résumé expert and a resume expert who works in the context of serving people first and foremost. Total cost for the 1 1/2 hour resume/listening/support/self-esteem repairing session? Zip.

For the record, I share not to get any praise or accolade. I share to highlight and remind us who work with people that establishing and nurturing a trusting relationship will take you places while remaining detached will have you wondering why your resumes don’t turn into jobs.

So You Want To Help People?


The majority of people I come into contact with professionally have as one common denominator, the lack of employment. Those that do have a job are almost always dissatisfied with the one they have at the moment and are looking to find another; one that will ultimately bring they greater happiness, be more of a challenge, stimulate some new skills, increase their financial health etc.

As an Employment Counsellor therefore, I find myself working with others when they are often vulnerable and emotionally fragile. Sometimes the good skills and strengths they have are obscured, not immediately obvious, and this isn’t because the person is consciously trying to hide them, but rather because they have come to doubt those strengths.

In asking someone to both show and share their good qualities, strengths and that which they take pride in, it can be a very intimate discussion. While a person who has only recently become unemployed has much of their confidence and self-awareness intact, someone experiencing prolonged unemployment may feel very little to be proud of. In fact, there are some who, while looking ‘normal’ on the outside, are walking around feeling they are completely devoid of anything of any value. Sad to say, they cannot think of anything whatsoever they like about themselves, they have no faith that anyone would ever choose to hire them, and this isn’t modesty in the extreme, it’s a void of identity.

So imagine you’ve come to find yourself as such a person. You honestly see nothing in yourself that would be attractive to a perspective employer. Skills, mental health, self-confidence, experience, education, attitude all empty and wanting; doubt, lack of self-worth, zero energy, high vulnerability all in great supply. Now you hear others advising you to market yourself to employers, to ‘fake it ’til you make it’, and you just feel so much more out of sorts and incapable. You’re literally incapable and immobile. There’s no way you can do that; you can’t even imagine yourself for a second ever being what your being asked to be. The interview therefore is a non-starter. There’s just no way you can perceive self-marketing yourself and being the first choice of any employer over others.

Let’s not delude ourselves here; helping and supporting such people is no small undertaking and it’s going to take a significant amount of time to aid such a person as they rebuild their self-image. Incapacitated is how they feel, not belligerent nor unwilling, just not physically or mentally capable of doing anything in the beginning to get going.

Can you also imagine therefore in such a picture which I’m trying to create for you, that such a person is going to have many setbacks? Sure they are. There will be many false starts; where they agree to try something you’ve suggested and fail. Where they lack the skills you and I might assume they have to circumnavigate even the simplest of barriers. Good intentions get them going, but without support they fail to move ahead. In fact, small setbacks become magnified in their eyes and thinking; more reasons to feel a failure.

A real danger is to look from the outside at such a person and judge them to be lazy, improperly motivated, unwilling to move ahead, happy to stay where they are and heaven forbid – not worth the effort. These are people who are susceptible to scams, vulnerable to being misled, easily taken advantage of – largely because they have come to look for others to tell them what to do and take care of them, and as such they are often abused financially, emotionally; and each abuse makes their distrust of someone with the best of intentions all the more real.

Wow! Helping such a person seems to get harder and harder with every paragraph I write. Think of the investment of time, effort and with such a high probability of failure, are you up for the challenge? After all, why not turn your attention to helping other people who have higher probabilities of success? That would seem so much easier!

I tell you this; there is immense self-satisfaction in working with people who are so innately vulnerable. Seeing the good in people; not for what they might become but for who they are at the moment – this is often extremely challenging but so worthwhile. It’s like saying, “Until you have the ability to believe in yourself, accept that I see much of value in you; that I believe in you.” Sending that kind of message, that this person is deserving of your attention and your time is something to start with.

You might not of course have what it takes to help such people. This doesn’t make you a bad person or flawed in any way. It just means your wish to help people lies in other areas, helping in other ways with other issues. You’ll make mistakes as you go and that’s to be expected and natural. You’ll make mistakes after years of service too, and you’ll always keep learning from those you work with who are unique from every other person you meet. You’ll never get so good you’re perfect for everybody you meet.

It’s been said that Hope is the last thing one has to lose; that when all Hope is gone, there’s nothing left. Now what if in their eyes, you represent that final Hope?

Fed Up Being Unemployed


Okay let’s start with the premise that you’re fed up. I mean you’ve grown so frustrated with trying to get a meaningful job that pays well that it’s left you confused on how to succeed and bitter. It seems no matter what you tried in the past, no matter who you applied to for a job, in the end the result was the same; you’re not wanted.

Seems to me that hearing the message, “Just keep trying” rings kind of hollow. How many times can you be expected to keep at it hoping for a better result? So you give up. Then after having packed it in you start feeling that it’s worth it to try again. Why? Usually it’s because the life you’ve got at the moment isn’t the one you want for yourself; you deserve better and you’re motivated to try again until you ultimately succeed or you give up once more.

Maybe you’d be open to hearing a few words of encouragement? If so, I’d like to offer you some. I suppose the first thing I’d like to say is that it is a good sign that you aren’t content to keep living the way your are now. That feeling that you want more is the seed of Hope that’s buried deep in your core. ‘Hope’ my dear reader, is at the core of so many people’s thoughts who push off from some known shore for the great journey’s they embark on. Hope is what causes them to leave the safe and known for the uncertainty and yet-to-be discovered.

Now keeping with that image of some adventurer embarking on a journey; the early stages of a journey involve traveling through the norm. The sailor who sets to some unknown land far away first has to get beyond the waters that are well chartered. The hiker deviating from some known path had to first hike what they knew to get to the point where they chose something previously passed up on.

It’s the same with you and your job search. You rely on what you know when it comes to looking for a job until you come across some better way of going about it. This makes absolute sense. However, just like the hiker and the explorer decided at some point to do something they’d never before done, it also stands to reason that you should do something you’ve never done if you expect the results to be more satisfying than you’ve experienced. Going about looking for a meaningful job the way you’ve gone about it in the past is likely to end with similar results; results you don’t want to experience again.

It’s important to realize that you’re not at fault or to blame for going about things the way you are; even if you later realize a number of mistakes you are made. After all, until someone introduces a better way, a more effective way of getting you where you want to be, the only way you’d have succeeded entirely on your own is through trial and error, until you lucked out on whatever works. That seems pretty high risk and could take a long time.

So it seems like you have a choice to make; do things the way you’ve always done them assuming this is how everybody goes about looking for work or, open yourself up to getting help and direction from someone who knows a better way. That ‘better way’ by the way, is likely going to involve some effort on your part in two ways. One, you have to pause long enough to be open to learning the new way and two you have to be willing to give it a shot and carry out what you learn.

Keep something in mind will you? When you’re learning something new you will likely feel the urge to just get going and apply, apply, apply! But throwing your résumé around everywhere hasn’t worked to this point has it? Pausing to learn, being taught something new isn’t  everybody’s idea of a good time. You might be the kind of person that finds sitting down and being taught how to go about looking for work in 2017 is really pushing your limits. Do it anyhow. Seriously; you want a different result don’t you? Sure you do. This is the price you pay for success.

Look you deserve a decent job. You probably aren’t going to end up running some major corporation or discovering the cure for Cancer. That you want to improve your lot in Life however, do something you find personally meaningful and make a future that’s better than the present is commendable. And if I may add, you’re worth it; we all are.

You should seriously think then about reaching out for help. Where to start though? Check in with just about any Social Services organization in your local community. If you’re not in the right place, a few phone calls will likely get you pointed in the right direction. Best news is that the help you need is likely free. Sit down with open ears and a good attitude and do something you haven’t done yet; give yourself over to their expertise. If it works, great. If the chemistry doesn’t work, try someone else.

When you decide to improve things and then act, you’re already becoming the successful person you envision.

 

 

Social Supports Work


If you never need to make use of the services provided in your community for financial assistance, mental health counselling, employment coaching, childcare, subsidized housing etc. congratulations. You’ve been fortunate enough to have your needs met both as a child and into your teens, and once in a position to make decisions about your own destiny, apparently you continue to make good ones.

For many however, the circumstances they were born into differed and the supports they had growing up which shaped their thinking and ability to make knowledgeable, positive decisions just wasn’t in place. When you sit down and listen to people tell their tales and hear first-hand their life stories, you come to appreciate the ongoing struggle that they face on not only a daily basis, but on an hourly basis.

Sometimes I admit that I sit and wonder why someone I’m listening to can’t see the situation as I do. If they’d only do what I’d do in the same situation the problem would soon be resolved; a barrier removed. Yet the choice they decide on is one which I can predict with a high degree of accuracy is not going to resolve the problem whatsoever and may even escalate things, compounding the initial challenge with additional issues. Oh if only everyone were as clever as me!

Of course I’ve become wiser over the years listening to people and taking what they say, massaging the information I receive and returning it back to them to make their own decisions and perhaps build on resolving this one issue so they can work on others. What I’m giving is perspective, an objective opinion, options, talking about foreseeable consequences and resisting the urge to tell people what to do. It’s tempting of course! Better however to ask people in the end what they plan on doing; after all, if they make a good decision it’s theirs to feel good about and if they make a decision that turns out bad, it’s their learning opportunity.

Let’s face it, sometimes, “Life” happens. You know, the things that happen to us all that we couldn’t have predicted but have to respond to in some way. Make no mistake, these things do happen to us all. So why is it then that when unexpected and unpleasant things happen, not all of us respond in healthy, productive ways? In other words, why do some people make better decisions than others when faced with the same events?

It goes back to the 2nd paragraph; right from the time we were born and well into our teens, some of us didn’t get the good parenting, mentoring, leadership, guidance, support, direction, teaching and support that is so crucial to developing the skills needed later in life when we have to make our own decisions. You might think that having such a setback might excuse someone’s poor choices as a youngster but as they move into adulthood the lack of good building blocks early in life can’t be used as excuses any longer.

The reality is that the circumstances in which many adults are in now are directly proportional to the circumstances of their upbringing. A family living in poverty – and I take the liberty of painting with a very broad brush here – has economic restrictions. A lack of financial resources limits opportunities for their children to participate in activities where children can socialize at the same level with other children from affluent or middle-class environments. They fall behind. They get less support in learning basic life skills; money management, goal setting, they find out less about education and employment opportunities which hinge on higher learning.

Now as adults, I admire the sheer resilience many of those receiving social supports have. Somehow through it all there remains for most a desire to improve not only themselves but the lives of their children. They still have hope. They may not use cover letters, those resumes might have spelling and grammatical errors, but they don’t give up or give in. They keep trying. They will only stop trying as it turns out if they keep getting told they can’t, they never will, it’s hopeless, they are a failure. Hear it often enough and they’ll believe it. So why can’t the opposite be equally true?

Hang on second…is that it? Is that a simple starting place? Is the key to surround a person who’s had nothing but poor mentoring and a lack of supports with positive, helpful, inspired and empowering people? How long would it take to see results? Months? Years? Never? I don’t believe it would be never, but it might take a long time. Then again, not everyone has the same problems, the same degree of difficulty nor the same number of issues.

Granted there will be those who despite all efforts will always need social supports and financial aid. While they need supports in place, unfortunately there is an extremely small chance of them becoming self-sufficient. There are also those at the other end who will pull themselves up with or without needing much help as they have the skills. However, in the middle are the vast majority of folks receiving some kind of support and if they get it they progress, and if they don’t they regress.

Want to make a difference? Become a mentor and/or helper or back those who are.

Those Drawn To Social Services And Other Professions


Name any profession that you have even a rudimentary understanding of what the people in that job actually do, and there’s a good chance you can accurately come up with the personality traits and basic skills that you’d find in many of the people in that profession.

For example, Firefighters likely have excellent stamina, a high level of physical fitness; a genuine concern for educating people on how to safeguard themselves against injuries or death caused by fire. Fashion Designers likely share creativity; a flair for fashion in general, and enjoy clothing others perhaps with colour, affordability, trends or materials foremost in mind.

Those drawn to Social Services work are no different. There are common traits and qualities that dominate those who you find in the profession. Let me amend that statement. There are common traits and qualities that dominate those WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL in the profession. For the field of Social Services is just like all other professions in that you’ll find similar qualities amongst most of the workers but you’ll always find a small percentage who don’t align with the majority.

What becomes magnified and of tremendous importance is that the few in the field who don’t represent the majority, ply their trade and go about their work all the while interacting with fragile, vulnerable people who can ill afford to be served by people who would appear to be, ‘in it’ for the wrong reasons.

While most people drawn to social service work have the very best of intentions to serve and assist the vulnerable, you may just find others with different agendas. Yes some in the field are in because they want a 9-5 job, maybe the benefits that go with it, maybe it’s something they can do that isn’t too taxing on the body or the mind. Depending on the employer, you might also see some in it for the money, the benefits, the stability and protection of a unionized body behind them.

Some of my colleagues in the field but with different employers in different areas or countries will laugh out loud at that last paragraph about being in it for the money. I can tell you though, in some jurisdictions Social Workers and Social Services staff are paid quite well; just as in all professions there are some who are paid better than others.

It is hoped – at least by me – that those who are drawn to the field of Social Services are the compassionate ones; the ones who you and I ourselves would like to see sitting across from us in our own moments of need. We’d like someone empathetic to our needs with an open mind and receptive ear. We’d like to be believed after being heard, and we’d like a responsive person who can and will work with us to improve our situation whatever it is.

What we’d rather not experience I feel it is reasonable to state is a person who is going through the motions, detached from their job, abrasive, disinterested in their work and who forgets that there are people affected by their actions or lack thereof. Ironic isn’t it that some people would be in the field of serving others yet go about their day almost seeming to complain about the people who make their job so frustrating by being so needy!

What I don’t think we in the field have to have as a pre-requisite is having lived the lives of those we serve and support. It isn’t essential to have been homeless yourself; to have had an addiction to cocaine or be a recovering alcoholic. I don’t think having spent time in jail makes you more qualified to help ex-cons than someone else who hasn’t been in the correctional system.

What we all do need I believe is tolerance, patience, empathy, understanding; a willingness to listen without prejudice and judgement, condemnation or preconceived attitudes. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the ex-con, recovering addict or alcoholic are not the best people to assist those they serve because they revert to their own experiences and sometimes in doing so fail to hear the unique experience of the person in front of them. Someone with no personal experience to shape their opinion will be listening in the conscious moment hearing the person they hope to help as they tell their story.

Sure it’s nice to think that we in the field can make a difference; that we can influence others for good, help support people who want to make positive changes in their lives. Honestly though, and as someone who has been in the field for some time, you’ll be disappointed in the setbacks some of those you have high hopes for experience. You might feel let down, or that you let them down. You might feel frustrated that someone didn’t follow through on your plan of action; that they were weak and succumbed to temptation and had a number of false starts.

You are human. It’s most important to be there. If people always call you first when they are the most needy, rejoice in that because your name came to their mind as the one person who is most likely to give them what they need in their moment of greatest need; what a privilege.

Talk to people in the profession you’re drawn to and see if you personally ‘fit’. Now that’s good advice.

For Us In Social Services


Social Services Workers; we’re supposedly the compassionate ones right? We are the ones who are drawn in life to work with the marginalized people in our communities. It is we, who work with troubled youth, the abused, homeless, abandoned, illiterate, physically and mentally challenged. Yes we were drawn here by the desire to care for others, to advocate on their behalf, to guide and support; to lend a hand to the vulnerable.

We’re nowhere near perfect I fear however. No, some of who are the very epitome of everything we value most in the good work we do, are ourselves looking for answers and workable solutions sometimes within our own families. We may have estranged relationships with those we should be closest to. We might have ongoing and escalating battles with our children, parents, siblings or members of our spouse’s families. We are in the end, human beings ourselves coping and dealing as best we can with what life brings our way on a daily basis.

I’m sure that in the middle of the family arguments we have been in for example, we’ve engaged in the process with the same passion, energy and conviction that anyone and everyone else do. It is only after the heat of the moments pass that we step back and reflect on what we might have done differently had we applied the same excellent advice we share with those we work on behalf of in our professional lives. Ah but it seems different at the time doesn’t it?

You’ll see excellent Social Services Workers who are divorced, separated, stressed, anxious, depressed, isolated, poor and chemically dependent. You’ll see among our number the wealthy, introverted, assertive, shy, lonely, both the beautiful and the quite ordinary; the disabled, tattooed and yes even the convicted. We are a collective group in society who goes about doing the work we do looking and acting for the most part human.

We don’t wear capes and have super human powers that make us recognizable heroes on comic book covers. Yet nonetheless there are those out there who admire us and see us as their real life heroes notwithstanding. Some among us do save lives, but not from fiery infernos, evil scientists and arch villains. Hold on check that; there are scientists creating and distributing chemicals that put those we work with at risk of dying, and sometimes we do get people moved into better basic housing that reduces the risk of being killed in some dubious shelter where there are no fire alarms or sprinklers. So maybe we do save people from fiery infernos just waiting to happen.

Yes if you were to assemble all us Social Service Workers in a large room and you looked among us, you’d find a pretty healthy cross-section of the general populations we serve. We’d look pretty ordinary, like the crowd you might see in an underground waiting to board a subway. We’re decidedly nondescript. We’ve no badge that identifies us like a Police Officer, nor a coat of distinction that you’d point to like the Concierge at a Hotel. We are in the end, just a collection of citizens, representative of the people in the communities we work in.

Mistakes we make by the truckload too. Just because we fall prey to the occasional bad choice or poor decision shouldn’t be taken as the personal justification others might cite for ignoring the sage advice we implore them to take. We make so many decisions over the course of a day that it is ridiculous to assume all those decisions will be the right ones. Why on earth would we suspect that we are impervious to error? We actually embrace these moments however; embrace I say because we intuitively know that it is our mistakes that are our greatest opportunities for learning and therefore growth. Some of the wisest among us are the biggest foul ups out there!

Our critics – and there are many of them – point to our very mistakes and say, “How can you claim to be this fabulous Social Services Worker when your own life is littered with mistakes, your personal life is a testament to your inability to make the proper big decisions etc.?” It’s true too; we’re human. We error and we do it often. Hopefully we learn and don’t repeat those mistakes but even in this we find we are human too.

We interact daily with people who sometimes are literally hanging on to a fragment of their sanity; balancing that fine line between living and carrying on versus ending it all and leaving their struggles behind them. The advice, help, suggestions and prompts we give after listening to their individual struggles that torment their souls is always well-intended to help. Still, we’ll lose a significant number of those we work with; some will move, others will succeed, some will just disappear and some will die. Irrespective of the titles we hold, the organizations we work in or the geographic locations in which we find ourselves, we will be fresh and ready with each sunrise to repeat our good work and give it our best again.

So why do we do it? We do it for the very reason we began it of course; we are the compassionate ones. We are the givers; our rewards don’t come with medals, huge salaries and bonuses but with the occasional, “Thanks for keeping it real.”

Thank YOU.