The contribution that social workers make to the lives of the people in their care, are varied and often go unnoticed. However – if you look closely and pay attention, there are countless stories of social workers transforming the lives of clients and patients under their care.
I am a 91 year old retired school teacher residing in a nursing home outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I stumbled onto your social worker success stories when browsing the web for background information on social workers. I'm proud that I can even browse the web. Let me get right to the point.
My health aide, Althea, has taken care of me for the last four years. She has given me back my life. I simply had to tell you about her and what she has done for me.
She is the single mother of three growing children and, as far as I can tell, does nothing but work. She looks after me six days a week and, I assume, looks after her family seven. When I say she has given me back my life, I don't mean my health or my youth. No one can do that.
She has given me the desire to stay alive. Althea makes me feel of some value. That, Sir, is a remarkable gift.
This uncomplicated woman treats me with respect. For example, without the slightest hint of pretense, she listens very carefully to everything I say. I know she is listening because I can still tell a genuine response from all the "yessing" that most people do to old folks. For a simple woman she's quite thoughtful, and she often challenges me to speak carefully because I know she is listening.
She charms me whenever she asks my advice, too. No one has asked my advice for thirty years. And based on the feedback I get from her, she often takes what I say to heart. Do you have any idea how a gesture like that rejuvenates an old woman in her nineties?
I noticed a couple of years ago that Althea dresses carefully whenever she comes to work. No jeans or advertising tee shirts for her. She dresses in a dignified manner that makes me feel respected; like she is caring for an honored elder.
She always calls me Mrs. Kane, even though I've asked her to call me Muriel. I'm glad she does.
By the time you're 91, you've been put way on the back of the shelf by most people. It takes the stuffing out of you, believe me. You just want to give up and get out of here.
Althea changed that feeling inside me. She's made me feel valuable and want to stick around. I'd say that's a social worker success story, wouldn't you?
Please tell others about Althea,
Mrs. Muriel Kane
Editor's Note: This post with its message is still a beautiful as it was when it was originally published. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.