Kerri

kerrismile

“I’m a social worker, and I work mainly with individuals addicted to heroin in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. What I spend my days doing is attempting to meet people where they are at, and then empower them to make changes in their lives. It’s a privilege to hold space for people’s pain and strife while encouraging vulnerability, openness, and honest dialogue about taboo subjects. Working with addicts has taught me that change starts with them, not me, but that I can create room for them to contemplate the changes they might (or might not) want to make. I can listen to them, and my goal is always for them to feel cared for and heard when our time together has ended. I guess I feel strong when I know that someone else is empowered because of our time together.  

I can identify clear times in my life in which I have felt empowered by another person, so to be able to bring that feeling to someone else, is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. I feel strong when others feel strong.  For this reason, I often advocate for change and am not shy about calling out injustice, while consistently being reminded that I have much to learn. I am usually outspoken and get most accomplished when I am emotionally involved. That is probably why being a social worker seems so natural for me. I find strength in other’s people’s resilience, and often find their resilience contagious. If my clients can find beauty and be strong while suffering from addiction and homelessness, then I most certainly can find beauty and be strong in whatever hardship I am experiencing. 

I also think strength is multi-faceted and doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes, I am strongest when I look weakest. When I need help and feel broken, but can muster up enough courage to ask for help – I know I am strong. When my clients come to me in tears and tell me they don’t know what to do next, I immediately tell them how strong they are for being able to come in and talk to someone. THAT, in my opinion is the strongest a person could ever be. To position oneself open to receive requires so much vulnerability and this represents more strength than I have the capacity to fully comprehend.”

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