Occupation Hazard. Intrinsic Value.

When I met D and her family I fell in love with them.  This was my first caseload of teenage girls as before I had been working with younger children only. Since the moment I arrived at my first home visit I could sense their excitement about getting a young female worker.  D and her sister were living with their father, an older gentleman who was also excited about finally getting a bilingual worker. In a strange turn, this family had welcomed me in and I wanted to honor and reciprocate the feeling. They welcomed me into their home -one of the most unsanitary places I have ever  been in my life.  I had to put aside my roach phobia and ignore all the creatures crawling and flying all around me if I wanted to make this work. They invited me in and offered me a seat. I sat down, discreetly, petrified and tried to ignore the massive pit-bull sniffing me.  I was sure he could smell the adrenaline running through my veins.  I imagined myself in the next episode of when animals attack, but I dared not say anything because I could see how the girls adored him and felt this could be a bonding opportunity. So,  I prayed and hoped that behind the fear, the dog could smell my sincere wish to help this family (this might have not been wise but I did make it through in one piece!). We all sat down in the living room and the family began to communicate, I had a sense that this was the first time they had an opportunity to laugh, tell stories and tease each other. It was a rare moment of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic life. I let this unfold only facilitating their exchange.  In the process I was really able to get a good look into the hearts of this trio. This has made the case so much easier to work with because when all things get dark I remind myself of the people who are behind the chaos and drama, and I pull through.   Since getting this case I have been through hell and back; I’ve had to fail the trial discharge, have been through 4 failed placements, a teenage pregnancy, a subsequent miscarriage and drugs, all in span of nine months. At times I just wanted to give them up, transfer the case or just quit! But somehow we made it through. When the girls have a problem they reach out; when they AWOL they let me know where they are;  The girls are sincere; they do what they say they’re going to do even if it’s not what’s right and they own up to their mistakes. I respect them and they respect me back and amidst all the chaos we keep working together and I never loose hope.  I am confident that even if I don’t achieve the ACS goals, court mandates or the perfect report, the time that I have invested in them and the respect I have given them has planted a seed that hopefully someday will make a difference in figuring out their past life and a better future.

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