I have enjoyed working as a social worker for 30 years. During these past 30 years, I invariably get the same reaction when I answer that age-old question: “what do you do?” When I answer, I am a social worker at Easter Seals Greater Houston, I hear: OOHHHH that must be so hard!
Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, mental illness, & disability. Social justice drives social workers and sets us apart from other professionals. We are the front line of assistance for clients and make up the threads of society’s social safety net.
And, NO, it’s not that hard. Yes, social work can be challenging, but it gives me the opportunity to grow every day as I overcome those challenges. Yes, social work can make me angry at social policies that discriminate, but anger leads to action and change. Yes, social workers are misunderstood and underappreciated, but gives me an opportunity to educate others and expand their vision. Yes, social workers come face-to-face with despair, but receive true joy by offering choices to overcome and treat despair.
I have the honor of daily interaction through our Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program with parents and other caregivers who are responsible 24-7 for their loved one with a disability. I see resilience, patience, creativity, advocacy, strength, and peace with themselves and their situation. Given the special set of circumstances a typical person could not imagine, I am inspired by these parents. I am blown away by these caregivers! These individuals help me see the big picture, the true value of each individual, and the complexity of life. With each interaction, I become a better person. NO, it’s not that hard to be a social worker. It’s a daily blessing. And the next time someone says to me “OOHHH that must be so hard!” I will take a deep breath, smile, and say Oh, it’s not that hard.
Linda Latimer, Program Director, Respite Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston