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When a Helper Needs Help

Deborah Jones. Photo courtesy of the Newark Advocate.

Licensed social worker Deborah Jones used to work for the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, according to this article in the Newark Advocate.

Then through a series of bad luck Jones lost her job and house and found herself homeless and living in her car.

At first she didn’t ask for help and Jones appeared so well groomed that not even fellow church members knew about her predicament.

After reaching out to her pastor Jones is finally getting help. She now lives in a shelter and hopes she will have better chances of finding a job now that she has a fixed address.

Surprisingly her background in social work made her less willing to reach out to others for assistance.

“My thoughts have not been to go to an agency to see if they can help me,” she said. “My thoughts have been, OK, utilize your skills you silly girl and get out there and try to figure out how to make this work for you.”

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  1. Sadly enough when helpers need help, we fail to seek help from the very same source in which we have dedicated and sacrificed our time, efforts, and other relationships because of the stigma and limited resources available to us. Social workers, therapists, counselors, case managers, peer mentors, etc., are often the ones who feel shammed, jaded, and fearful of seeking the help that we too deserve.

    For example, in Broward County, we have limited Agencies that provide specific services such as housing, utility assistance, therapy, and other social welfare services, so the probability of ‘running into’ classmates, coworkers, friends, and potential employers is very high. In fact, it is that same fear that often leaves many social workers/helpers helpless or feeling helpless.
    Some main causes behind not seeking help include (but is not limited to):
    • Limited/Lack of resources within the community
    • As Electronic Health Care becomes more utilized, the fear of breach of confidentiality
    • Fear of hindering possibility of employment by the Agency in which we seek services
    • Stigma within our own self : turning into one of ‘those’ people

    I have personally taken part in conversations with fellow coworkers, colleagues, and networking systems about this issue and the seriousness of the impact that it encompasses. Often times, having someone to talk to without fear of judgment, makes all the difference in the world.

    To all my fellow helpers, thank you for helping those who cannot help themselves. You are a gem!

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