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The positive things social workers do
I have now had so much experience in social work both personally AND professionally. People wouldn't believe my age, if I actually told them.
Subjects that I have personally written and spoken about in college, hubpages, and to people that I have come into contact with each day, such as legal immigration, migraines, Wounded Warrior Program, Epilepsy, Iron Deficiency Anemia, Mammograms, Discrimination, Pets, service dogs, Sleep, aging, macular degeneration/wet eye, abuse, education, Cerebral Palsy, the work place, Wal-Mart, Hypoglycemia, Guardian Ad Litem, Vocational Rehabilitation, Health Care, Cancer, children's physical health, PTSD and other disorders. Furthermore, there is still enough life in this old body for more such topics.
Social work actually means having an honest dialogue with people. It means talking openly about trauma, addiction, suicide, homicide, rape, abuse, homelessness, mental illness, poverty, sexual deviance, criminal activity, racism, sexism, aging, illness, abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, euthanasia, finances, issues related to military combat, and gender identity—among other topics. It means discussing these matters in the complete absence of judgement.
Which I have actually done openly on many of my hubs.
Many of the above discussions, I have gone through myself. I went through continuing with Epilepsy/Generalized Anxiety Disorder/Hypoglycemia/Insomnia/Iron Deficiency Anemia to PTSD due to unemployment/finances, death of a family member (yes, it was the family dog, but to those with PTSD they are more than just a dog) cancer scare, loss of my children due to homelessness, and not seeing said children due to ex-spouse still in the military. Now that I am employed, I try and put all of this into helping my clients excel in their job environments. I feel their pain because I have been through it.
I have spoken to people I meet in my clients' employments who have family members with disabilities, wanting to know how to get their loved ones into the Vocational Rehabilitation system, so they can get the assistance their loved one needs. What people do not seem to realize is that this assistance actually starts in their Junior year of high school. If your child is in any special needs class, they should be able to hook you up to Vocational Rehabilitation resources for pending employment for your special needs child, for after they graduate from high school.
A little bit about the process
They will start off with doing assessments to see what they can do, which is set up by the job developer (or job coach, as I have actually set up a few myself due to the fact that my boss asked me to) and done by them or job coaches, like myself. They are done at business locations for about 2 hours, but for these two hours they are done on a volunteer basis, so we can note for our job developers what kinds of jobs to apply for, for that individual client. Job Developers help with job applications. When they get an interview, I am sometimes called to attend, as well as their orientations. We also have to do a job analysis of the actual job description, assist in training the employee, hook them up with some nice co-workers, so they know who they can go to if they have any questions when the job coach starts fading out. However, we still keep contact with them 1-6 days a month in case of any issues. Most have my phone number and can call to let me know if they have issues at their work and want me to be there for a meeting with their supervisor. They have that support during their employment and even after, if they continue to want to remain employed, but not necessarily at the place they are currently, the client is taught to give a two weeks notice if they feel it is not a good fit for them. Then the job developer continues again to try and find the perfect fit. Most times it doesn't come to this. I have just had one client that this has been an issue for.
My success and failure rate
Now, please remember that I am dealing with some clients behavioral issues, so not every client is going to be a success. Furthermore, even though one may feel EVERY Wal-Mart should be the same working environment, it isn't. I have now coached at four different Wal-Marts, and they are all different.
One client got promoted from seasonal to part time, and on one of his first days on the inside, he sold a $4000 tractor. (So proud.)
Another got promoted from seasonal to part time and then made Employee of the Month. (So proud.)
Another, while he kept his hours the same at work, he decided to go to the community college and further his education. (So proud.)
Many got promoted from seasonal to part time, and continue to work. (So proud.)
Some are working full time hours and do not collect any other assistance. (So proud.)
One of my clients who loves his job had gotten his hours cut. He is one of the clients that I call once a month. I told his job developer, who happens to be one of my favorite people, and she contacted his job's personnel office and found out why his hours were cut. He told his job developer, "I will do anything to be back to working 4 days a week, instead of 1." Now, this clients hours are back up to 4 days a week, and he now works in the department that he has wanted to work in from the very beginning. (So proud.)
An Autistic client who was given extra responsibility in training a new employee. When he was offered to train, I put the client on retention, and catch up with him on the weekend. OMG, he is so excited about having had the opportunity. (So proud.)
My favorite client is on her own now. Her co-workers and customers adore her. I am happy to be able to continue to see her once a week. She is by far one of the sweetest people that I have ever met. I found out what she does at home, and she is so downright delightful. She says, "surprise" when her family comes home, having cleaned the house and made the beds. During the holiday, when the decorations are up she will ring the bell on the mistletoe and stand there. Her mom is delighted to have such a joy in her life. I'm glad that her mom doesn't mind sharing her with me. Her mom and I spoke about many things today. It is so nice to see a family remain intact during a child's challenges. One does not see that too much anymore. (So proud.)
I have seen so many other success stories that were never my clients (such as my boyfriend) it has been amazing for my clients to get to know them. They continue to be an amazing inspiration to the community.
While working with the disabled, they are still individuals, and things are not going to always turn out the same. I have had about two clients that had serious issues with attendance. One was actually doing an awesome job. There were no complaints from management about his work. No matter how many times he was told to watch his attendance, from both me and my boss. They get into the mind set that they are okay. Later, they find out that the employer still has to go along with the same policy as everyone else, and they are back in the unemployment line, searching again. All because of attendance.
Some, due to their disability, exhibit behaviors where they say one thing and their body language says something else. Some lose their job because their work is great, their attitude, however, is something else. (I have had two clients who were previous foster children.) Then, we have those that just exhibit plain old bad behavior after the coaching process is done, and they just make bad choices.
I have only had a handful of clients that were a real challenge. The rest have all been successes. However, you have to remember we are not all the same, and we must make room for individuality.
Other positives with my social work degree
Animal adoption experience
In 2008, I adopted a 7 week old Lab Mix, or that's what the paperwork said she was. Later, we found out that she is part Pitt. However, I don't love her any less. She is an amazing dog. Then, in 2013, I started doing some volunteer work at the very animal shelter that I adopted my dog. We had a pet adoption event at the local Pet's Mart where 21 pets were adopted while I was there volunteering. There was one amazing incident where someone that had been pet sitting a dog, and the dog had run off, had been found at our pet adoption event. They called their friend that they had been pet sitting for and told them that they had found their dog. The reaction from that dog on actually seeing people that the dog recognized was amazing. It was obvious that that dog was going back to their original owner.
Now, I find out that the current county that I live in is holding a fundraiser to have their first Animal Shelter built, in which I plan to attend. My hope is to get my name out there in the animal community, and do what I can in that population as well. Pets are family to.
Child Welfare Events
I was a Guardian Ad Litem, which is a volunteer program to be a voice for a child in court. Therefore, I have written many court reports. I also volunteered time for two of their Child Abuse and Neglect Mall Events, and one Youth Summit event, to prepare 17 year olds for their transition out of the Foster Care system. After this event, is when I suffered a miscarriage, which is proof that life goes on. One can try their hardest to do good things for their community, but good things do not always happen to the do-gooder. Either case, the Youth Summit was actually one of my favorite Child Welfare events, as well as being able to attend the State of the Child Seminar, in which I did a college paper on. They did many workshops on different populations, that you got to make the choice to attend three. One of which I attended was for the LGBT organization, where we ACTUALLY had to pair up with someone else, and act out a conversation where one was trying to tell their loved one that they are gay. We did have to swap roles, so we each got to play the role of the loved one, and we each got to play the role of the person that was coming out. The presenter actually said that I did well as the loved one, because I understand how difficult it can be for the other person putting everything on the line, which this having been a Guardian Ad Litem event, that's the kind of person you want in that kind of role. If a child client would ever come up to me and say that, and that they wanted my support in helping them come out to their parent(s), I would be able to do so.
In some cases though, Child Welfare has become harder and harder for me to work in. Because of my own relationship, or lack thereof, with my own children. When I used to think of my social work degree, I wanted to be a School Social Worker. Helping children be successful in school. Helping pregnant teens to stay in school. Making sure poverty stricken children had their free lunches. Making connections between children which would, hopefully, cancel out bullying in schools. However, because of my own personal life events, I have changed the direction of where I want my social work career to go. I am definitely glad to have had the experience in working with my Guardian Ad Litem Supervisor, the District Court Administrator, and the Guardian Ad Litem attorney. They will forever be on my favorite people list. The applause that they gave me when I graduated with my Bachelors in Social Work will always be remembered; as I supported the Guardian Ad Litem organization through my volunteer work, they supported me. I can never forget that. I think this was the biggest first example of a give and take relationship that I have EVER had in my life.
So, while a social worker goes out there and tries to help others make positive changes to their worlds. Eventually, that social worker found that they have helped the social worker to. I hope that this cycle continues to guide me to help others through their life challenges no matter what population I choose to work for.
It may look like the failures outweigh the successes. However, they really don't. Many, MANY of those with disabilities want to work or supplement their income to what their government assistance will allow them to do. Most of my clients that get partial government assistance is only allowed to work 15-24 hours a week. Some just decide to work because it gets them out into the community, and gives them something to do. It becomes, literally, part of their well being.
So, if you have any loved ones in special needs classes in high school. Touch base with the special needs teacher about any programs connected to Vocational Rehabilitation. It can really benefit your child, because unfortunately, their parents, who look out for them the best, cannot live forever.
Make your impact. It's not unimportant. It's amazing. I know. Because I have disabilities to.