Thursday, May 04, 2017

i see their faces

i purposely haven't written much about my internship for this school year, due to privacy reasons. however, i wrote this to share a little bit about what i've experienced and seen. my perspectives have been challenged, i've grown so much in a short amount of time, and being "in the trenches" has really opened up the world to me. 

background info: i have been interning at a community services organization that serves the community i live in currently. the organization is a small non-profit that has a food bank, thrift shop, and grants that allow them to assist families in crisis with financial assistance. i worked in the "front lines" and interviewed/assessed clients as they came in requesting services. the financial interviews are in depth and that is what i did a lot of. i also did case management follow up with the 70+ families that were assisted through one of our grants. so i had a lot of client interaction over the course of this past school year & the 424 hours i spent interning.

these are people, not paperwork.
they're not just case files. they're not just statistics, they're people, faces, lives.
having a caseload of 75 files means being an active member in at least 75 lives.

it can be easy to see them as cases instead of people. but when i recognize it as 75 families... it shifts my perspective for the better. not only are these cases real people, but i play a part in each of these families through the follow up process. so everything i do, whether positive or negative, affects these families and lives, even if indirectly.

in this line of work you see a lot of faces. it's only been a year since the announcement of my career change. 9 months since i started grad school. this road has led to what feels like an entire new life. full of challenges, awareness, and growing.

i see their faces.
the face of poverty.
the face of homelessness.
the face of despair.
the face of not knowing where to turn.
the face of giving up.
the face of not wanting to be a burden.
the face of shame.
the face of humility.
the face of being overwhelmed.

the faces of the transient.
the faces that are weeping.
the faces who don't want to make eye contact.
the faces who can't wait to leave.
the faces that aren't used to asking for help.
the faces that are uncomfortable, downcast, ashamed.

the face of the young girl who just wants to take care of her baby and not have her taken away.
the face of the older lady who broke down crying because of the overwhelming situation she is in.
the face of a survivor who made hard but healthy choices.
the face of the lady who just wants for someone to listen and not dismiss her.
the face of the man who has found out he is dying.
the face of the mom who doesn't want her child to have to sleep in the car again tonight.
the face of the dad trying to keep electricity on so his kids can stay warm.
the face of the widow whose husband just died and she doesn't know where to turn.
the face of the woman who left the abusive relationship but now has nothing.

but also...
the faces of hope.
the faces of gratefulness.
the faces of strength.
the faces of resilience.

these faces and more are all that i have met throughout this past year. yet there is always more to the story and there is always strength hiding in the shadows. out of sight, but it's there. not all find it, but most do.

and that is really what being a social worker is at the core. meeting these individuals where they are, taking on their stories, and helping them find their strength to continue their journey. they don't need me to give them strength, and it's not mine to give. they just need to be able to find the strength that already exists inside of them and harness it. and after all, isn't that what we all need from time to time?

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