I Am a Social Worker
I am a social worker.
In a general sense, my job is to help people improve the quality of their lives. In a practical sense, my job is so much more. Each day is different and each family I meet is unique. I travel to homes all over Hamilton County, from the wealthy suburb of Indian Hill to the poverty-stricken inner-city neighborhoods in lower Price Hill.
Some days, I teach a young mother how to discipline her children without hitting them; other days, I help a single father complete paperwork to enroll his child in school. Some days, I work with parents to develop a budgeting plan; other days, I help a family plan a funeral after the loss of a loved one. Some days, I assist a grandmother with eliminating bed bugs; other days, I teach a teenage father how to burp his infant son. If a challenge arises that I don’t know how to handle, I figure it out.
I do for them what people have done for me all of my life. I provide encouragement, guidance, and education. My mother and father, my relatives, my friends, my teachers, my neighbors, my co-workers, my supervisors, and my community have all been my support system. From them, I have learned life skills necessary to survive.
A common thread among most of the families I work with is a lack of a similar support system. My clients are not “bad” people. Their laughter sounds the same as mine. Their tears fall just as hard. They are proud when they accomplish a new task, and they have the same hopes and dreams for their children as I have for mine. The families I work with lack someone to push them when they want to quit. They lack someone to teach them what they don’t know. They lack someone to say “Way to go!” when they have tackled a challenge.
So…I do those things.
Then I help these families connect with others that can do those things when I am gone. I teach them how to build their own individual support system. I connect them with local churches, food pantries, volunteer organizations, recreation centers, therapy services, libraries, schools, medical providers, and many of the other rich resources that are available to those fortunate enough to live in Hamilton County.
And when it is time to say good bye, I encourage the families to reach out and share what they have learned, so that they feel the reward of helping others.
I am a social worker.
Linda Patterson, social worker with Lighthouse Youth Services