One afternoon, a new client walked into my office and introduced herself to me.
“Hi, my name is Jane, and I heard you are the one to talk to about resumes and job searching?” she said.
Delighted that my role as the Self-Sufficiency Coordinator was finally starting to circulate through the shelter, I invited Jane into my office. From there, our relationship began to grow. Jane sat down and told her story to me. She shared with me how she was being mistreated emotionally and financially by her boyfriend. When the abuse became physically violent, she knew she had to leave. Jane said that she had never been in a shelter before and that she was ashamed to tell her family about her situation. After talking with her for awhile, we made a plan together to get her back on her feet.
The next time that Jane and I met, she told me that she has a master’s degree and that a long term goal of hers was to get her certification to teach. As I encouraged Jane to follow her dreams, she reluctantly admitted to me that she was unsure that she could pass the certification exam because of her fear of math. I offered to work with her to help improve her math skills, and she agreed to meet with me to learn algebra. The next few weeks we spent a lot of time together going over equations, proportions, exponents, and many other mathematical functions. Jane caught onto the material so quickly that I was surprised that she was afraid of math. Jane admitted that her math phobia might have been mostly a mental block. When she was in school, no one ever really took the time to explain things to her in a way that she could understand. Jane was very grateful for the time I spent going over math problems with her. Little by little, her confidence about learning and practicing math had grown a great deal. I could tell that Jane’s confidence had not only grown in her math skills, but that she was also beginning to believe in herself again.
As time went on, Jane secured a part-time job tutoring troubled youth, and our meetings together slowly waned. One day, several weeks later, Jane came to me with an air of excitement. She told me that one of the youth she was working with needed help with his math, and that she had helped him! She told me that before she worked with me she would have not been able to help him and that she would have been afraid of the situation. Jane told me that she now feels confident and empowered. She gave me a hug and thanked me for the time that I had dedicated to helping her.
Through my work with Jane, I learned that it is important to go above and beyond for our clients. Going that extra step to help Jane not only helped her to gain a new skill, but also helped her to feel empowered. Showing clients that you care about their personal passions and their interests helps them to be able to trust you and creates a safe space for them to open up about other needs that they might have.
Lori was born and raised in Blue Springs, Missouri. She attended the University of Central Missouri, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. During her undergraduate experience, she developed an interest in working with women who have experienced domestic violence, which led her to working in domestic violence shelters over the past few years. Currently, she is attending Washington University in St. Louis to obtain ger Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Good Shepherd Volunteers provides full-time volunteers with the opportunity to work in social service ministries and to use their talents serving women, adolescents, and children affected by poverty, violence, and neglect. Learn more.