29 Mar A Community of Hope…and Social Workers
This month marks my 37th service anniversary with New Hope of Indiana, something nearly unheard of among my younger colleagues. Not many people stay at the same employer for over three decades, but at New Hope, it isn’t quite so unusual. New Hope’s leaders, managers and even our Direct Support Professionals tend to stick around a lot longer than our counterparts at other organizations. I think it might just be because the people at New Hope are simply good people who share a great mission.
I started at New Hope in 1985 as a social worker in the largest residential unit and then quickly moved to the traumatic brain injury unit of our 200-bed live-in facility. At that time New Hope had five living units where individuals were categorized by their abilities. They spent their time doing in-house therapies and following a pretty structured routine. At that time, there were a lot more professionals working in much closer quarters. As social workers, my coworkers and I tried to create experiences for the people we served that would mimic real life outside of an institutional setting. We even took a group camping at Bradford Woods once. Outside of my unit there were many individuals with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities living a similar life. Many of the younger clients who had jobs, went to school and spent more time outside of the facility led the community integration movement here at New Hope, making our organization the first of its kind to open and the first to close in favor of community-based services.
Today, New Hope, and my job at New Hope, look very different. The individuals we serve have far more choices in how they spend their time and how they live their lives in general. While I still rely on my training as a social worker, I don’t provide direct support to our clients anymore. As Director of Community and Family Connections, it’s my job to find the right services and resources for the people we serve, the people we may serve in the future and their families. I also educate members of our community about what New Hope does, I give tours to families who are considering using our services, and I help families navigate the complicated processes and systems that come with disability services. As a social worker, I was trained to view the whole picture, to see a person’s whole life and entire well-being rather than to focus on one thing. This is a similar approach to that of the life course framework that we use now when creating support plans for the individuals we serve. This gives me a unique perspective when helping a family or individual choose their care.
I think it’s an asset for our entire organization to have so many trained social workers on our team. Social workers are advocates who work to teach the community that we are all more alike than we are different. They provide counseling and work with families to provide support, education and opportunity and who always try to find answers and connect people to the resources that better their lives. I am blessed to work for an organization that values this training and provides opportunities to use these skills to support the individuals we serve.
This is one of the reasons that I’ve stayed at New Hope for so long. It’s the people that we support, the people who work here, and the fulfilment of working toward a shared mission and vision. I truly love working with everyone on #TeamNewHope!