A Year in the Life

Human Services diagram

Several months ago, I shared this blog post, “ACEs, TIC and 7ei, Oh My!” with you. Today, I’m reflecting on how much I have learned about human services, child welfare (and myself) since starting at SaintA a year ago this month.

I’ve interviewed foster parents who are just starting their caregiving journeys, those who have been licensed for a quarter of a century – and everything in between. I’ve met some really great adoptive families, including LGBT parents, which is especially meaningful to me.

And then there was the story of Abby! How fortunate was I to be in the courtroom the day she officially became a member of her forever family? It was the first adoption I attended and it won’t soon be forgotten.

I’ve also met reunified families. These parents have taught me the very definition of determination as they shared with me their stories of recovery, intensive therapy and improved parenting skills. It’s important to acknowledge that it is possible – albeit, not easy – for biological families to be back together again.

Right now, I’m helping promote the SaintA Annual Toy Drive. As I understand it, the toy drive began as a grassroots initiative by case managers who wanted to do more for their kiddos during the holidays. This was in addition to already spending their days (and often, evenings) working on behalf of these kids and their families. These are the folks who have taught me about commitment.

I have often said that being on the marketing side of things (and not in direct care) allows me to stay a step removed from the stories of trauma, neglect and abuse. But the truth is, I take this work everywhere I go and it’s completely different from anything I’ve experienced in my career before.

I smile at strangers because I truly do not know what kind of trauma they’re working to overcome. I carry with me the babies I’ve gotten to hold and even though I can’t take their photos, I see pictures of them every day in my mind’s eye. I call one of our Independent Living Services clients a friend because he entrusted me (the person, not just me, the writer) with his story.

With all the training, learning and new types of stories to tell, I’ve said many times in the past year that my brain is full. And while that was something I expected from a new career, it’s the fullness in my heart that’s been the most pleasant surprise.

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