Let me start this by saying I have been doing social work for the last two years. That sentence seems like a declaration of something I've avoided to say because it did not fit what I was. It was never what I intended on doing, never thought it could be what I was capable of doing. It was not my goal nor intention, yet I did it.....
Today I write this as I sit a day out from my final day as a social worker in a direct capacity. I've been working with the homeless community here in the Portland Metro area. This path came from my desire to help, to be of service to others, to be part of something that is far more meaningful then just myself.
In my time working for a nonprofit I have experienced some great people who are dedicated and share my same ideals. I have experienced stresses of tired systems that sometimes present more bureaucracy then solutions. I have worked alongside those that are overworked and under appreciated. And in all that I've played a small part in being a catalyst for change for those who work tirelessly to create it.
In the hectic blur that has been my last days in this current role I am inundated in work I have to complete with not enough time to complete it, thus is the norm. I tie loose ends and take on measures to ensure a smooth transition to the people I've been assisting. I am showered with compliments about my abilities from both clients and colleagues and I press on.
As I walk out for one of my final breaks with a co-worker I see an old ragged red Toyota coming to our office. The man driving is playing a harmonica and fully in his element. He notices me and I do the same. My co-worker walks away and I exchange some words with this person I know well.
See this man was a person who over extended his stay in our program. I fought to navigate the gray that is the black and white systems that are meant to help. I put out my own neck in order to get this person where he knew he was going if only given a chance. More then a year later he was out of his car and in a modest apartment he had only envisioned and at some points thought would never come to be. When he exited our program we said our piece and he thanked me for all of my efforts. He thanked me for sticking with him. In that moment I couldn't offer a response. didn't have anything for him. The only thing I believed was my doing, was to let the potential of a man be realized.
Back to the parking lot.
Day before my last and we are reminiscing on the ups and downs that were the past year. He reminds me of all the times I reassured him we would continue forward. He reminds me of all the times he wouldn't make it. He reminds me that in all of it, I was always there. He hands me a letter and stated
"You gave me my life back"
I don't know how to respond again. My notion was never to path his course. It was only to be a fellow human. A person who could provide a hand in someone's time of need. I never knew how my efforts could have such an impact.
I stare back at him humbly, thank him, and in that we embrace each other for the last time.
This simple exchange has led me again to the belief that all of us have amazing potential. That may take on different meanings to different people, but I like to see it as unique offering we all possess and can share with this world.
It could be a smile
It could be an embrace
It could be a second chance
It can be a helping hand.
Never lessen what you are or can be to another being!
"What I spent, I had; what I saved, I lost; what I gave, I have."
Father, traveler, self trained creative, and spectator of life. The quest is to live a life intentionally, to construct a life of my choosing. I left the comfort of home at the age of nineteen and have been enjoying the Viaje as it unfolds ever since