I Remember...

Posted by GVT Admin on Mar 22, 2023 10:30:00 AM

social workers working Social workers are mission-centric personalities who join the profession to do some good. For the most part they are idealists who gradually get caught up in the minutia of the large bureaucracies they work within, and their vision of a better future gets a little blurry. Every year we like to take a step back to help refocus the collective vision of the ideal future that inspired social workers to join the profession in the first place. We interviewed four caseworkers of varying years’ experience working in diverse specialties and asked them why they became social workers.

CW#1 - 25 years - Family and Child Care

“I began working in family and child services more than 25 years ago and have stayed in the same area my entire career. I was raised by an abusive father and as a child never understood why the adults in the room never seemed to notice or offer to help me and my mother. I vowed when I was still in high school to find a way to help people like us, and I did, and stayed in the field for my entire career. I still love helping families get passed the worst of it.”

CW#2 - 2 years - Healthcare Social Work

Social workers in healthcare

“I don’t have to think back too far to remember what motivated me to become a social worker and work in the healthcare field. My grandmother, who I adored, died of COVID-19 all alone in a nursing home. Her closest friends all died too. There was no one there to hold her hand or help her understand what was happening to her. No one to ease her way. She just got weaker and weaker and passed, and no one gently explained what was happening. Two old ladies who did survive told me that watching her die was the saddest thing they ever experienced. You could feel her confusion and fear, they said. That’s why I’m working here and will try to help the ill and elderly for the rest of my career.”

CW#3 - 8 years - Homeless

“I was one of the earliest women working in a large tech company until the financial crisis of 2008 hit, and I got laid off. As the financial meltdown got worse so did the employment picture and soon, I found myself homeless. I couldn’t believe it, but one day I literally had no place to sleep and ended up forcing myself to sleep in a church homeless shelter in Seattle. What I experienced for the next three months drove me to change professions and become a social worker to help the homeless in any way I could.

“The first thing I realized was that the homeless are invisible. No one wants to see them because most people are two paychecks away from joining them in their plight. Fear makes them look away.

“The second thing I experienced is when people are desperate, they easily turn into predators. The homeless are often the biggest threat to their fellow homeless.

“I couldn’t go back to tech. I had to help. I still feel that way.”

CW#4 - 16 years - Juvenile Justice

Children in the Juvenile Justice system

“My highly intelligent black family of 6 grew up poor in Harlem. I put it that way to show that beyond our humble circumstances, we were ill suited to accept blue-collar work as maids or ditch diggers. We were all ambitious and that ambition drove some of us to excel but proved to be the stumbling block for my youngest brother who made a lucrative profession out of dealing drugs in the neighborhood. He was clever and wily but ended up in Wallkill for his efforts. Things went downhill quickly, and he committed suicide after ten years behind bars. I watched it happen and knew that it didn’t have to end like that for him. I needed to get involved and help disadvantaged kids find a better way to enter society. I’ve been at it now for 16 years and truly feel I have done some good.”

I Remember…

All four of the caseworkers above are buried under paperwork in large agencies yet they remain highly motivated. For this blog we also interviewed four additional caseworkers and all of them “remembered” clearly what motivated them to become caseworkers. We recommend that all our readers take a minute from your busy day and “remember” why you became a social worker. The “why” is everything.


Topics: social workers, what social workers do

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