Why I became a Social Worker
Social work chose me at an early age. I was probably “pre-disposed” to being interested in the field of social services as I was adopted soon after birth and was educated by my parents regarding the crucial professionals that helped facilitate that process. My parents also emphasized the importance of the investment of time and resources into lower-income populations. They ensured we spent time at homeless shelters preparing meals, and later sent us on trips to volunteer on Indigenous American lands, an orphanage in Mexico, and a church in Jamaica. They also made sure we had many cross-cultural experiences state-side to ensure we were aware of and felt comfortable around many diverse groups of people. These experiences cultivated a strong empathy for humanity and a desire for social justice. It did not take me long before I answered “social worker” when asked about my college major.
I was made aware quickly that social work did not “pay well” and handled the responses of “wow that’s really nice of you” to my endeavors, but only as a 19 year old can, I would re-state my desire to “help people”. Throughout my social work classes, I gained as much textbook knowledge as I could before my first job as a home visitor with young mothers at risk for homelessness on the west side of Chicago. It was at that point, I truly felt I was “living out my mission”. As most social workers will tell you, the gratification in the work we do comes from our clients’ stories. It is truly a privilege is to be that person standing alongside a client during their darkest times. To be “let in” by that client at their most vulnerable and provide what support and presence you are able is an honor. Whether you are walking along with someone who lost a baby, facing homelessness, struggling with the depths of depression, etc., a social worker stands alongside their client. Whether you are placing a baby in their arms, welcoming them into their new apartment, celebrating the rainbow after the storm, etc., a social worker stands alongside their client. This was my motivation from the beginning and will continue to be my motivation. One picture I will always take with me is watching a little boy at an orphanage fall while playing by himself at their playground. He looked around and didn’t see anyone to respond. I ran up to him. He reached up for a hug and cried. That’s my “why”
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