15 Mar Social Worker Appreciation: Terri Gee
March is a month of celebration at New Hope. We’re recognizing Disability Awareness Month, New Hope’s birthday, International Women’s Day and, of course, Social Worker Appreciation Month! March 16th is World Social Work Day, so we are celebrating by thanking New Hope’s own social workers. It’s been a year for the history books, but New Hope’s social workers have found unique and enriching activities to keep the individuals they serve happy and engaged throughout the pandemic. We are so thankful for each of them, no matter the role they play on #TeamNewHope!
Terri Gee is one of the dedicated social workers who make an impact as part of New Hope’s mission. We were excited to learn more about Terri and why she enjoys being a social worker at New Hope of Indiana.
Q: Why did you choose a career in social work?
A: I have my undergraduate degree in Psychology and when I was talking to one of the professors telling him I wanted to help others and figuring out which direction I wanted to go in life, he suggested I research Social Work. I discovered a degree where I could help many people in different ways and my passion has always been to work with children and adults with special needs. During my final year as a senior, I was introduced to a job as a DSP. I was hired and worked for two individuals who taught me so much more than I could have taught them or learned in school. I am so thankful I chose this path and was introduced to this occupation.
Q: How did you come to be a Behavior Consultant at New Hope?
A: I was in a previous position in leadership and realized that I truly missed working with individuals one on one with disabilities. As I was looking for a career that could make a difference, I discovered New Hope and I instantly knew this was my calling and a company I wanted to be a part of and work for to make a difference.
Q: What do you most enjoy about your work and about New Hope?
A: I absolutely love working with the consumers with various challenges and assisting them in achieving a better quality of life. Helping others improve their symptoms of mental health and help them grow into the person they want to be is what brings me joy. I treat each person with dignity and empower them to be their best in whatever they choose to do. I have never experienced such a wonderful team as the Behavior Services Department. I know that I can go to all of them and ask for help, support, or a listening ear and they will be there. I really have enjoyed working with Lonya as a supervisor because she is always available, provides sound advice, and shows support/guidance in my professional and personal life, as well as the clients we serve. During 2020, I was also going through some challenges (just like the rest of the world) and she was there to help remind me of self-care. The culture at New Hope has been evolving and I love the direction we are going as a company. The heart and passion can be seen, heard, and felt throughout the entire company. The buy-in from the associates is always involved in each area of our company and the incentives are great as well. New Hope ensures we all have an opportunity to be heard and participate in various ways. We are all a team, and it shows.
Q: What is something that surprises people about your job?
A: I feel as though the one part that surprises some people about my job is my flexibility to be there for the clients and staff during the day and evening hours and on the weekend if they need me. I also am willing to advocate and aid in the provisions for the clients if need be. I have learned so much from the clients such as how to become knowledgeable about art, music, trivia, plays, and even mechanics.
Q: Why is it important to recognize and celebrate social workers this month?
A: This month gives social workers around the world the recognition and the chance to share the wonderful ways we as social workers can encourage and improve the lives of the individuals, families, and communities we serve around the world. We inspire others through advocacy at the local, state, and national levels, advocate for equity and inclusion, social justice for the poor and those struggling with job security, food insecurity, abusive relationships, neglected people, disabled individuals, intervene and prevent substance dependence, help our veterans, aid our elderly population, and children in the foster care system, just to name a few. We can help with problem solving, assist with end-of-life decisions and saying goodbye to loved ones, short and long term interventions, and empowering others to be the best they can be while introducing (or reminding them) of resources to better themselves.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in social work? What about someone who might want to serve individuals with disabilities?
A: I would want others to know that everyone can make a difference in someone’s life. It takes dedication, education, and a wonderful agency/company to provide you the tools, resources, feedback, and growth to take a step towards being a social worker. There are plenty of mentors who are willing to help someone thinking about a career in social work. I would be more than happy to help others who want to know more about what we do and how to get started. It takes a kind heart, patience, and the ability to treat people with disabilities the same as everyone else. This population we work with just want to be treated with dignity and respect and provided the same, or similar, opportunities as everyone else. We all have strengths in our lives and being able to be kind and caring is something we can all do without training.
We are so glad to have the expertise and dedication of so many social workers at New Hope. You’ll find them in our Behavior Services program where Terri works but also in our residential programs, in other therapy programs and on our leadership team. Terri is most inspired by other women who made a difference in the world like Maya Angelou who once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The people that Terri serves and her coworkers will always remember how she makes them feel. Thank you to Terri and to the many social workers on #TeamNewHope for their commitment to New Hope’s mission and the people they serves.