Sometimes described as a “thankless job,” social work entails working with clients/patients for long periods of time with the possibility of never hearing the words “thank you.” Some who seek help have overwhelming feelings of entitlement or cannot comprehend the non-profit industry’s struggle for funding and resources. The general public sometimes regards social services as “handouts” or some kind of sustenance for the lazy. And don’t even get me started on the salary.
So, why do it?
“I’m doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I’m really grateful to have something that I’m passionate about and that I think is profoundly important.”– Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund; the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi state bar; award-winning author
I may only be a student, but Mrs. Edelman took the words right out of my mouth.
You can’t put a price on feeling relevant, feeling as though your work, your life, is meaningful and serves a greater purpose, something bigger and beyond yourself. On top of my increasing list of things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving (and always), I am grateful for this profession. People describe this work as “rewarding” and “fulfilling” and though it gets tiresome to hear it, it’s true—it not only changes the lives of the helped but also of those who are helping.
I’ve always believed that the best way to show your gratitude for all that you’ve been given is to lead the best life you know how to live and by sharing the goodness that has been shared with you. Appreciation is shown by the clients’ responsible actions, maybe a low viral load from taking better care of themselves, by being on time to their next appointment, by remembering how to smile even though they had once forgotten how.
And for making the helper feel important and purposeful, the social worker thanks their clients.
I am thankful for all the people who dedicate their lives to enhancing the lives of others and have paved the way for those of us who wish to do the same. So, to those of you who are relentlessly serving, learning, teaching, and supporting the profession of social work, and regardless of if you hear it enough:
(Yes, that’s a hand turkey, like the kind you draw in elementary school.)
Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful!