Dear Fellow Social Worker,

You are an inspiration to me.  The way that you live out your calling as a helper is so incredibly beautiful, and I’m sure you aren’t told this enough: The work you do is powerful.  You aren’t told this enough, because the work you do is rarely hi-lighted in the news, or glorified on TV, or even asked about at dinner parties.

The work you do is in the trenches, in homes that no one else visits, in neighborhoods that others fear to frequent, in hospital rooms tucked away on the top floor, and in courtrooms that don’t attract news crews.  The work you do, is often done with no applause, no thank you notes, and no awards ceremonies.

But you know that the work you do is changing lives, because you are privileged enough to get to see it.  You don’t see it often, but there are those precious moments when a client has a breakthrough, or a family opens up about their grief, or a birth parent makes a positive choice, or a community votes on a proposition that will change things.  You see glimmers of hope that remind you that your work is worthwhile.

But on those countless days when you see no glimmers of hope, and you are putting hundreds of miles on your already beat-up car, and your client is angry when you arrive, and no progress seems evident, you press on, because you are determined that dignity is a gift worth giving and justice is a goal worth fighting for.

You believe that one kind look, one agreeing nod of the head, one compassionate touch can unlock the key to life change.  You realize that the extra hours it takes to document the work you do is critical to telling the story of healing that your client and you are co-writing.  You believe that the extra effort put into a home visit is vital to the emotional and physical safety of a child.  You know that even though you’ve been off the clock for hours, taking a call from this mom is worth a cut in your free time.

You don’t care that your work stories make you an odd dinner guest, because you know that what you do is worth making you an odd person out.  You don’t care that you can’t laugh at jokes that most seem okay with, because you believe that discrimination and abuse are never funny.  You don’t care that you can’t often talk about your work, because you know secret stories of life-change that no one else gets to know about.

And even on the days when you are on the verge of tears because you don’t know what to do to help your client, and you are weeks behind on paperwork, and you are weary from countless crisis calls, and you wonder if you are even helping at all, you still take the time to listen to your coworkers, to note that they look tired, to ask how you can help.  Because you just can’t help yourself from helping others.  Work-weary, you still help your coworker, partner, and neighbor, because at your core, you were born to bear others’ burdens, and you’re really good at it.

You are a Helper.  You bring dignity to those who are often overlooked.  You believe that every person has deep worth.  You know that service to others brings joy.  You have a fight in you that won’t allow injustice to prevail.  You believe that relationships are the key to healthy and whole living.  You are smart about things that most know nothing about.  You are good at what you do.

So if no one else will say it, I will.  You are amazing.  The work you do is changing lives, families, communities, cities, nations, and our world.  I’m proud to be a part of this rag-tag group of justice-fighters.  We are a fabulously amazing bunch!

Happy Social Worker Appreciation Month!

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