Social Work: What I learned, What I’ll Miss & What I’m looking forward to About Being A SAHM

family-reunification

May 14, 2005, I was 23 years old, fresh out of college and looking for work. I obtained my bachelors degree in Psychology from Oakland University and wasn’t exactly sure what type of job I was looking for when my BFF, Marcia, told me that Judson Center had an opening for a foster care worker. While I didn’t know much about foster care, I needed a job and knew that I wanted to help people, so I reluctantly submitted my resume. After two interviews I was offered the job, though I’m still not sure how because I was so wet behind the ears. I was very nervous but I accepted the position. Foster care was intense, a lot of work with very few happy endings, therefore after six months I decided to transfer to the Family Reunification Program (FRP). FRP is where I built my career. I loved working in FRP and I believe in the work that we do.

Sadly my agency lost their FRP contracts to other agencies and my program will be closing today, 9/30/13. I know that all of my coworkers will land of their feet and I am excited about the opportunity to become a stay at home mother, which has been my desire for a while now. It’s been a awesome journey and I’ve learned a lot but I believe now is the season for me to focus on my family.

Over the pasted nine years while working in FRP, I’ve been honored to work with some amazing families throughout Wayne County MI. I worked with families who’ve had their children removed due to some form of abuse or neglect and the courts returned back home after most of the safety issues had been resolved. I did in home case management for four years and then after obtaining my Masters in Counseling while working full time, I became a supervisor in FRP. Over the years I’ve seen parents maintain their sobriety so that their children’s wardship could be dismissed from the system. I’ve seen father’s step up and get full custody of their children while the mothers work to get themselves stable and back on track. I’ve seen families rebuild their trust and repair their relationships and communication skills so that their home environment can be peaceful again. It’s been a beautiful thing to be a stepping stone in several families lives on their road to successful and a better future.

Social work can be very challenging at times and it isn’t for everyone. I believe that my relationship with Jesus Christ is what helped me to be an affective social worker. I often prayed for guidance on how to best serve the families. I had to listen to Holy Spirit regarding when to respond and when to be quiet. The love of Christ kept me going back to some homes each week though I knew I would not be well received. I thank God for protecting me while in the community and for showing me favor with my clients, supervisors and other professionals.

What Social Work Has Taught Me

Over the years I’ve learned….

1. Early on that the families ultimate success or failure was not up to me, it was up to them. I learned to pray for my families and leave them in God’s hands, instead of staying up all night worrying about them.

2. That my role as a mandated reporter was to report any suspected child abuse or neglect and to leave the investigating up to Child Protective Services. I didn’t need to look under people’s beds and in their basement, that wasn’t my job. I was there to keep families together.

3. To dot all my i’s and cross all my t’s because in social work, if it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.

4. Not to take bags into clients homes because you might bring unwanted guest home with you.

5. How to remain professional and not freak out when I saw bugs or mice running around people’s living rooms.

6. My way around the City of Detroit after the first two years of continually being lost and calling my dad, my husband or my dad’s buddy Ron for directions (before GPS was popular).

7. How to testify in court and how to interact with Judges, Referees and lawyers.

8. How to pay rent and utility bills, file police reports and sign up for government assistance, all things that at 23 I had not been exposed.

9. How to work with people of all different backgrounds and to appreciate other’s differences. To be open minded and understand that all families don’t look like mine and that is ok.

10. How to safety plan with my clients and help them to be resourceful. This was helpful in the situations where I was able to locate free resources for families in their communities and help them safety plan so that their families needs were met and everyone was safe.

11. The most important thing I’ve learned was how to be strength based and solution focused, which is the foundation that FRP is built on. No matter what the situations looked like when we initially started working with a family, we were taught to ALWAYS locate the families strengths and to build on that. We were taught to focus on the solutions and not the problems. We were taught to be optimistic and to believe in our clients success even when our clients were doubtful. The strength based solution focus model has been imbedded in my brain and I plan to continue using it in my everyday life.

I’ll never forget some of the great success stories where families beat the odds or challenging cases that ended in the children being removed from the home. I’ll never forget the stress of file reviews, countless interviews in attempts to locate competent staff or the few after hours home visits I had to attend in times of crisis. I’ll never forget the supervisors I had that trained, supported, and challenged me and who made me the social worker/therapist that I am today.

I’ll miss Judson Center, it was truly a great agency to work for. I’ll miss exploring cases and problem solving with my peers. I’ll miss the excited yet nervous feeling I’d get every time I went on a initial home visit. I’ll miss the feeling of pride after having a great home visit where the family was open and engaging and had a major break through. I’ll miss the joy of seeing families get praised by the Judge and get their case dismissed at court. I’ll miss some of my staff that I know truly cared about the families and were dedicated to serving them to the best of their ability.

I’m looking forward to being at home with my family and having time to spend with them. My husband and I were working opposite shifts so sometimes it felt like days went by before we got a moment to slow down and enjoy each other. I’m looking forward to being active in our girl’s development and education. Elyssa is 2 1/2 years old and Elaina is 3 1/2 months. I want to be there to watch them grow and take a even bigger role in their daily learning. I’m looking forward to putting Elyssa in dance or swimming classes and taking her to the library for toddler time. I’m looking forward to supporting my husband with his business and being more of a help meet to him. I’m looking forward to seeking God about my future business ventures and educational goals. I’m looking forward to being a therapist at some point. This is truly an end to a great era but the beginning of something awesome as well. I know the Lord is with me and my family and I have complete peace about the journey that is ahead because He is guiding my every step.

29th Birthday 29 Reasons To Shout

  

Today is my 29th Birthday and I have so much to be thankful for!! God has been so good to me, without Him, I would be lost but with Him, there has been nothing that I haven’t been able to do!!  Where would I be without His grace and mercy! Lost and looking crazy!! Today I wanted to share 29 reasons that I shout and praise God regarding my life. I pray this list encourages, motivates and stirs you up like it continuously does me!!

29 Reasons To Shout

God has blessed me with:

1. Good health

2. A sharp, peaceful and sound mind

3. An intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I am NOT ashamed to share the gospel of Christ and let my lifestyle be an example to others.

4. An awesome black man, YES ladies there are great ones out there! My husband loves God, himself, me and our bundle of joy with all that he has in him.

5. I’M GOING TO BE A MOMMY!!

6. We were blessed to be able to plan when we wanted to started our family and God granted us our desire!!

7. An education. I was blessed to go to two different private schools and was able to go to college and obtain my Bachelors and Masters degrees.

8. The funds my husband and I needed to purchase our first home right before we got married. We purchased a 3 bedroom condo in Southfield for $36,000. It’s 2,500 square ft with a huge basement!! God is so AWESOME and faithful!!

9. Both sets of our parents are still happily married (30 and 29 years!!). They are all saved, love God and welcome Him to be the center of their marriages. We are so blessed to have the 4 of them in good health and living in the same State as us. We thank God for their love, guidance and support.

10. All 5 of our siblings (Joe/Chasity, Leah, Rachel and Rebecca) are saved, hard-working, loving, kind, hilarious, giving, college students, athletes, volunteers and business men and women, that love the Lord.

11. A healthy, intelligent, funny, giving, happy and well-behaved niece. I love Gabrielle Mackenzie Wood!

12. A career that I love. I am a supervisor at Judson Center in the Family Reunification Program.

13. I am a limited licensed counselor in the State of Michigan.

14. A husband whom is my best friend, the leader of my home, my life companion, lover and future baby’s daddy!

15. An awesome church home where the word is taught straight from the bible. We are taught how to walk in it and trust God for all that we need. Our lives have been forever changed since joining Word of Faith in 01 and 02.  Shout out to ALL of our Word Of Faith family, we love you all!!

16. A healthy and comfortable first 2 months of my pregnancy. We are confessing great things over our baby and my body.

17. I am no longer lost, broken, bond, confused, hurt or deceived by the treats of the enemy! Jesus died on the cross for my sins and because of His blood I am cleansed, healed and free.

18. I love myself. I am happy in my own skin. I know who I am in Christ and who He has made me to be!

19. God has given me the strength, boldness and heart for the people. He has turned my mess into my message and helped me to share my life experiences with those in need. BUT GOD LADIES, BUT GOD!

20. I know my God loves me unconditionally.

21. We have 3 grandmothers and 1 grandfather still living and ALL four of them love the Lord and their families and they continually share their wisdom with us. Eddie’s grandparents have been married for 62 years!!

22. God’s divine protection and the blood of Jesus covers my home, our baby, our bodies and our family and friends daily.

23. God has blessed us to get married during a time that so many other Christian couples were getting married and therefore we have an awesome community of married couples to fellowship and pray with.

24. My hubby and I are blessed to have support from all of our family and friends regarding my pregnancy and our upcoming baby. It’s such a blessing to have people praying for us, encouraging us and being ready and willing to be a blessing to us!

25. I thank God for the gifts and talents that He has given me to write posts for this blog each week and to finish my book project soon. I thank God for my book coach, Versandra Kennebrew and my peer Leslie B! I really enjoy working with these lovely ladies and growing with them.

26. I praise that I am in His will and right where I need and desire to be in my life. God is continually developing and molding me but I am happy to be able to say that I am in His will for my life right now.

27. I praise God for my drama free, honest, happy HOT marriage.

28. I am extremely thankful to God for my true friends. My friends that I’ve had for years, since a little girl all the way to my friends that I just met this year. You know who you are. I love you and I thank God for your love, prayers, guidance, support and friendship! True friends keep you on the right path and make you better. I thank God for you ladies!!

29. I thank God that favor goes before me each and every day and prospers my way!! God is continuously opening doors for me and my family and making ways when it seems like there is no way. I do not have to fear because I know that my way is blessed because I’m following Christ!!

Healing For Her Soul: Shining Light on The Darkness

“If the occurrence of rape were audible, its decibel level equal to its frequency, it would overpower our days and nights, interrupt our meals, our bedtime stories, howl behind our love-making, an insistent jackhammer of distress. We would demand an end to it. And if we failed to locate its source, we would condemn the whole structure. We would refuse to live under such conditions.” – Patricia Weaver Francisco, Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery

 I wrote this poem when I was going through and preparing to receive my healing.

The Story of A Hurting Woman

7/7/02

As she looked into his eyes

She knew right then

That she’d never look at men

The same way again

He stole her innocence

He crushed her pride

But she told no one

Her shame she tried to hide

To this day the thought of it

Still makes her want to lose control

A friend she thought he was to her

Some of the events of that day

Are still a blur

For some reason

That night she did not yell

Because of the embarrassment

Her story she did not tell

He ripped at her clothes

As her mind went blank

Into a secret safe place

In her mind she sank

To hear his name

Still makes her want to cry

He had no right to violate her

But he did have the right to die

A part of her died that day

The part that thought the world was a safe place

The part that trusted men

Now avoids a strangers face

She hurts to this day

And there’s nothing anyone can say

To erase what has been done

But what she did not know was

She wasn’t the only one

By Joanna Willis

I was sexually assaulted in September of 2000. It wasn’t until 2002 that I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready to acknowledge what happened to me and deal with the effects that the assault had on my life. I was fearful, angry, bitter, hateful and distrusting of men. Once I was ready to admit that I had been assaulted, I had to deal with the emotional rollercoaster that followed. 2002 was the perfect year to begin my healing process because I rededicated my life to Christ in Jan of that year.  I was going to church, reading my word, applying the bible to my everyday life and attending counseling. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the hurt and pain during that season without the Holy Ghost.

Part of the reason why I did not seek help immediately after my assault was because I did not know what to do or where to go.  I’m not blaming my parents, college or church, but the fact of the matter is, I hadn’t been  educated regarding what sexual assault was, how to protect myself or what to do if I was victimized. My own ignorance, mixed with shame, fear and embarrassment kept me silent and allowed my attacker to go free.

It is vital for everyone to know what to do to if they or someone they know has been assaulted. Also, it’s very important for the loved ones of the survivors (I will not use the word victim) to know what they can do to support them. Please read the following info below.

If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

  • Try to get to a place where you feel safe.
  • Reach out for support. Call someone you trust, like a friend or family member. You are not alone; there are people who can give you the support you need.
  • Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (toll-free 1-800-656-4673) or a local rape crisis hotline are resources for you.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical care is important to address any injuries you may have and to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
  • Most importantly, know that the assault is not your fault.

You have the right to…

  • Be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Privacy. That means you can refuse to answer any questions about the sexual assault, your sexual orientation, your sexual history, your medical history (including HIV status) and your mental health history.
  • Have your conversations with a sexual assault counselor/advocate remain confidential.
  • Decide whether or not you want to report the assault to the police.
  • Not be judged based on your race, age, class, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Have a sexual assault counselor/advocate accompany you to medical, law enforcement and legal proceedings.
  • Request that someone you are comfortable with stay with you in the examination room.
  • Ask questions and get answers regarding any tests, exams, medications, treatments or police reports.
  • Be considered a survivor of sexual assault, regardless of the offender’s relationship to you.

If you are considering filing a police report…

  • Try not to bathe, shower, change your clothes, eat, drink, smoke, gargle or urinate prior to the exam.
  • Seek medical attention for an exam and evidence collection as soon as possible after the assault.
  • Bring a change of clothes with you.
  • You have the right to have a sexual assault counselor/advocate with you during your medical exam.
  • Reporting to the police is your choice.

Remember, you are not alone and you are not to blame for what happened.

http://www.connsacs.org/seeksupport/assaulted.htm

A Word to Support Persons

The survivor of sexual assault has been through a very traumatic experience and it is important that she/he receive support, assistance, and accurate information. Your being there in a supportive way is immensely valuable.

Allow the survivor to make choices and remain in control. Give reassurance that she/he is not to blame. Listen as she/he talks about the experience. Be accepting of the survivor’s many emotional reactions including anger, fear, anxiety, and depression.

Believe what the survivor tells you. Know that revealing this experience takes a great deal of strength and courage. Letting the survivor know that you believe what they have told you and that the assault was not their fault is extremely important.

Be respectful of privacy. Don’t tell anyone about the assault without the survivor’s permission. The survivor has only chosen to tell you and it may be hurtful or detrimental to their healing process and recovery.

Be a good listener. Here are some things to keep in mind when a survivor chooses to talk with you:

  • DO concentrate on understanding the survivor’s feelings
  • DO allow silences
  • DO let the survivor know you are glad s/he told you
  • DON’T interrogate or ask for specific details about the sexual assault
  • DON’T ask “why” questions such as “why did you go there?” or “why didn’t you scream?” or “why didn’t you go to the hospital right away?”
  • DON’T tell the survivor what you would have done or what they should have done

Let the survivor make their own decisions. Always let survivors weigh their options and decide how to proceed in their own recovery process. Telling a survivor what you think they “should do” about the options available to them can contribute to a survivor’s sense of being disempowered. Instead of taking charge, ask how you can help. Support the decisions the survivor makes, even if you don’t agree with them!

Remind the survivor that you care. Being “there” for survivors is very important. You can do this in a number of ways; by being a good listener; accompanying them if they seek medical attention or walking over with them to get counseling or crisis support at the Counseling Center; making arrangements to have dinner or coffee with them; asking the survivor “how can I be helpful”; voicing your concern by saying things like “I’m sorry that this has happened”; telling them how courageous they are; or telling them that you don’t see the survivor any differently may all be tangible ways to show that you care about the survivor.

Give the survivor space if s/he needs it. Be sensitive to the fact that the survivor might want to spend some time alone. Don’t take it personally. Survivors may just need some time to pay attention to their own needs from time to time.  

If you are a romantic partner of the survivor, ask for permission before touching or holding the survivor. Do not rush sexual contact. The survivor needs to decide when it is right to have sexual contact and to pace the intensity of involvement. Accept the fact that the survivor’s renewal of sexual interest may occur at a slow pace. Discuss the subject of sex in a non-sexual environment.

http://www.oakland.edu/?id=6581&sid=208