And National Professional Social Work Month!
March is National Professional Social Work month, and caseworkers across the city deserve to be celebrated all 31 days. At The City Mission, we recognize that our caseworkers are vital to the success of the people we serve. Equipping men, women and children who experience crisis and homelessness with practical help, restored hearts and sustainable homes is no small task. It’s our caseworkers that are at the forefront of facilitating this total transformation.
When a senior citizen shows up at our doors with no family and a failing memory, who will advocate that she is placed in a suitable nursing home? When an 18-year-old runs away from domestic violence at home, who will help him finish high school and transition into independence?
On any given day, hundreds of men, women and children are recovering from varying crises at the Mission. Our goal is to help each individual heal and move toward self-sufficiency, but every man, woman and child that comes through The City Mission has their own unique background and set of challenges that they must overcome. To create programs that work on a large scale and minister to our clients on a personal level, we rely on our amazing team of caseworkers.
“A caseworker is a mentor — someone who walks through life with you,” shares Linda Uveges, COO of The City Mission. “They work to make sure everything we offer our clients is finely tuned to each individual.”
Caseworkers connect with everyone who enters our long-term program. From the moment they meet a guest at Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center or Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center, the caseworker begins to build a relationship and identify unique needs for each person. Our caseworkers are actively involved in client’s lives on a daily basis, linking them with available resources, offering advice and guiding them along the road to recovery.
Recovering Help, Heart and Home
Helen can attest to this. She’s a Laura’s Home client in her 70s that has struggled with drug abuse for 50 years. When Helen’s habits caused her to be evicted from her apartment, Laura’s Home welcomed her and helped her accept the reality of her addiction. And when Helen needed hip surgery that put her in the hospital for a month, her caseworker made sure there was a spot for her at Laura’s Home when she was ready to be released.
Helen was thrilled to be returning to a place where she could continue to heal not just her body, but also her heart. “For that, I will be forever grateful for Laura’s Home. They didn’t have to do that.”
Ashley Field, a caseworker at Crossroads, embraces the diverse challenges of the people she serves. “I enjoy being able to look at a crisis a client may be experiencing objectively and find realistic solutions to remedy the crisis. It sometimes takes a lot of persistence and creativity.”
Whether a client needs medical care, tutoring, housing assistance or a government I.D., caseworkers at The City Mission are there to guide hurting Clevelanders through recovery. Like any worthwhile relationship, such a deep level of investment can be challenging. Sometimes clients can relapse into old addictions, relationships and habits. And sometimes, regardless of how hard a client and caseworker fight for a better future, there are barriers that seem impossible to scale.
“There are certain people society is unwilling to consider. Sex offenders, for example, are extremely hard to help because no one wants to hire them or rent a living space to them. It’s hard to help someone rise above their past when society does not create safe avenues of employment and housing for those who need healthy outlets to provide for themselves,” says Mark Ballenger, another men’s caseworker.
However, no matter a client’s circumstance, Uveges knows the Mission’s dedicated team of caseworkers is up to the task. “They’re just such great examples of compassion and patience. They’re willing to listen, and they’re right there to celebrate each victory.”
“I enjoy seeing behavioral changes. When I can help a client understand the Bible, speak with a counselor, get properly medicated, or start receiving drug or alcohol treatment — and then their behavior begins to improve — I find this very rewarding,” Ballenger adds.
Encouraging Our Advocates
The City Mission is grateful for our incredible team of wise women and men who graciously walk alongside our clients. Their ongoing care and compassion gives each of our guests a personal mentor, advocate and cheerleader for their time at the Mission and beyond.
We invite you to leave notes of encouragement for The City Mission’s caseworkers on our website right now! Your words will be passed along to caseworkers at Crossroads and Laura’s Home, so that they know their city is behind them. And be sure to take time in March to encourage the people in your own life who operate in social work roles. Their days are full and challenging, but because of their critical work, lives are changing for the better in Cleveland every day.