I Blog to Cope in Social Work

Today sucked.
It is 12:26am  and I am writing this on my Verizon Samsung phone. I did middle of the night grocery shopping, cleaned my kitchen and still have the events from work poking me in the eye.

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All else has failed, so I will write. It turns out that writing is pretty therapeutic (something psychiatrist have been saying for years, blah blah whatever). I started this blog officially to explain my passion and job to my parents and people I grew up with from the affluent town of Arcadia. Unofficially, I totally started it to impress a man I was dating who worked at Microsoft and friends with noted blogger Robert Scoble.

This has been a great place to toss resources for my own reference, mention events in the news, explain complex processes of government assistance and vent. Tonight it has been a measuring stick for me.

When I started as a social worker I was so excited and bright eyed. Not for the work I would be doing, but because having the work meant I had completed my college degree and the work would take me out of Welfare. That’s right, I was a Welfare mom who went to school on the DL because Welfare programs did not allow education – only work or community service.

I started at a Senior Center in Monrovia as a glorified receptionist who also did the MIS & database for matching care providers with low income seniors. While there I met a homeless man who was unable to connect with food, shelter or a way out if our parking lot. It occurred to me that Monrovia, Arcadia, and Temple City all were without food stamp or Welfare Check dispensaries. That’s right, in the dark ages before EAT cards benefits were handed through bullet proof glass and half the time you had no idea if your case was currently active until the moment of truth when the teller would either hand you a packet of coupons and a check or shake their head at you – causing an entire day trip to sit in the DPSS office completing forms and bad attitudes.

I did my research and found LAMP. For two hours before my first interview with Mollie the founder, I sat on the roof of my car and talked to the residents on Crocker Street. Skid Row, I discovered is more than a section of the city – or place where more people fill the streets than cars. Skid row is a smell, a stench of urine and police equestrian feces and people who had little to no access to showers. It was many things, but scary wasn’t one of them.

Working at a shelter and apartment for recently homeless adults was a trip. I had nothing to compare it to. Here is where I discovered how easily influenced I was by manipulations of addicted minds who worked differently than mine. I’m a gullible sucker. Also, I discovered how much I love people. For the first time, I dug in with people and met their problems and private fears. This happened just as my own daughter was developing her own perspective on the world. I was parenting at home and, to some extent, at work.

Non-profit organizations are hopefully run differently than this one was. “Non-profit” referred to the employees. We got calls asking who could live on $40 until the next pay period because they had not made payroll and sometimes were told we couldn’t use our insurance because premiums were not paid.I was spending 15 extra hours a week teaching residents of the shelter how to blog and MSN/Microsoft and employees had kindly given computer parts and books to assist me. . . . See, dating that Mocrosoftie wasn’t just good for me: it benefitted others. I’m a giver like that :smirk:.

For the last eight years I’ve been a contractor for the Los Angeles GAIN program: the same program that tried to prevent my college completion. So much has changed in that time.

I completed college, my oldest child turns 21 years old next month, bought a house and am raising a tiny tyrant – I mean 4-year-old. I don’t work for the paycheck anymore (in part because I realized social work never has much of a financial return), and I have the technical skills to solve hardware issues and the soft skills to connect meaningfully with clients.

So, today sucked. Today was the day of Opiates Addicted Pregnant People (can I see that on a Hallmark calendar? ) and PET team calls, paperwork, reports and audits. Today was the day a full grown woman collapsed into my arms sobbing about her death wish – I dealt with it – with compassion and humor and professionalism.

Okay. Going to sleep now I feel better.

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