An Open Letter to Future Human Service Workers
To Whom It May Concern,
Hello. My Name is Warren Leigh, and I see that you were just hired to work in the wonderful field of Human Services. I myself have nearly 10 years of experience between security in my local school district and evening supervisor at a family homeless shelter. The Human Services field can be many things from rewarding to challenging. Quite frankly, it can be somewhat of a new adventure every day.
Now I don't want to come off as a know-it-all or the end all be all when it comes to this field. But I did want to share with you one main thing that I have learned along the way to give you a better understanding in whatever direction this takes you.
This poem was shown to me by a co-worker at my school. And it can relate to any type of Human Services job. The clients we deal with, whether they are students or parents with children, have dealt with or continue to deal with many different kinds of trauma. No one staff member, unless they some how see it first hand, will ever know what an individual goes through outside of the walls that surround your place of employment. You would be amazed at the things that someone has to do from 3pm until school the next day at 8am. Or the obstacles that an individual faces before they reach your facility and you and your team help them find stable housing.
Another thing to look at, more so in the school setting, being mindful of the temperament of a child. I have especially noticed this in regards to younger kids, but this can apply to almost anyone. My home school coordinator, which is a fancy way to label someone a vice principal and pay them much less, gave me this little tibbit when he came to my Pre-K through grade 8 school. If you happen to see a child come to school and are immediately on level 12 and he just doesn't seem like he's enjoying life. The first thing you want to ask him, before addressing any behaviors "Did you eat breakfast this morning?".
It may seem trivial and minute, and I'm sure most people take it for granted. But this goes back to no one knows what to that child outside of those walls. You don't necessarily know when the last time that child ate anything was. And for all you know it could have been lunch time the previous day. Within the last 2-3 years, my school district made breakfast and lunch free for everyone. A far cry from when I was this age and my mom would cut a check for me and my brothers to pay for our lunch monthly. So feed that child and at least try to get them on track to succeed.
Well I've probably taken up too much of your time with this. And that's if you are even still reading this or have already resigned from your job. But let me leave you with this one last thought. When you're dealing with adults, whether they are parents of students or a part of families in the shelter system, their anger may not be 100% in regards to you informing them of curfew or any other policy in place. Their anger may have to do with a myriad of other things that they have going on. Never take that anger personal. Even if that anger leads to personal attacks. Always start every day as a new day and never ever hold a grudge.
If you keep an open mind, you can go as far as you want in the wonderful field of human services.
Good luck to you.