Friday, February 6, 2009

A complement!

I'm feeling pretty good right now. I'm feeling pretty good about what I'm doing. Yesterday, I got a phone call from a client who was just laid off from her job. She said she was telling her mom she was so glad she has me as a caseworker because I would help her out, make her feel better about herself, and she saw me as inspiration to go back to school.
Apparently, sharing a bit of my single-mom-doing-the-best-she-can-going-back-to-school-and-succeeding self was inspiring enough that when she was laid off from work last weekend, her first thought was if Christine can do it, so can I. It had been my dream my whole life to help people. I thought I wanted to be a teacher and that's what I was going to college for, but in the past few years, I've slipped into this role of helping those seriously less fortunate than myself. It has really changed the way I look at my contribution to the human race. Yes, we all need teachers and I'm sure I would've made a good one. But perhaps my place is to help people make better lives for their families. After we all leave school, either through graduation or other means, who do we have helping us to give our lives direction? If we're lucky, we have parents like my own who poked, prodded, nudged and yes, even screamed us in the right direction. But what about everyone else? The world is full of those who are too scared to ask for help and those too scared to offer help that may not be wanted. I decided long ago to stop being scared and to at least show people by example what is possible and offer assistance along the way. A friend/co-worker of mine who retired last year was wonderful at what she did to help people. If a young man on public assistance came in to our office because he just lost his job and his wife was expecting their fifth child, she was not afraid to (very grandmotherly) ask him if he didn't understand where babies came from! She would tell a client to their face that she knew they were lying about why they didn't look for a job because their mother had already "died" three time this year! And she did these things in such a way that people never got mad or upset, they just sheepishly smiled at her knowing they were pinched and either went out and did better or didn't but at least didn't lie about it anymore. She didn't sugar-coat reality because she believed that people wouldn't take responsibility for themselves if all we ever did was coddle them because we didn't want to get in trouble with the higher-ups, and how were we supposed to help them become self-sufficient if they didn't start taking responsibility for their own lives and families. While I'm not quite brave enough to tell people I know they are lying, I apparently am helping people turn their lives around in my own way by not being afraid to let them know me. I truly do feel like I'm on the right track.

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