Celebrating Social Work Month with Stories from our Team
Mabel Reimer | Lead Clinician, Mental Health & Wellness
“Being a fellow human means that I know how hard life can be”
As a young adult I realized I loved hearing people’s stories, understanding where they came from and being a witness to their journey. A social worker also played an integral part in changing the course of my young adult life.
Just last weekend, we had a dad run out of his car to tell us we saved his teenage daughter’s life. He said they had been in therapy for years and nothing worked until she came to our DBT group. He thanked us for giving his daughter another chance.
Social work is a unique profession that approaches situations from a truly holistic lens looking at all contributing factors within a person’s environment. It is also deeply committed to social justice and not simply upholding the status quo.
Nathan Harriman | Transitions Worker, Youth Transitions to Adulthood Program
“My own experience has taught me that one positive person who believes in you can make a huge impact on a youth’s life”
I absolutely love helping people. It’s just something that’s always been in my heart, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My own experience has taught me that one positive person who believes in you can make a huge impact on a youth’s life and that relationship can build a foundation for success for the rest of their life.
One of the most rewarding moments in my career so far has been able to see the impact that our team has had on the young people we work with and hearing from the youth individually how much they appreciate us. It’s truly heartwarming to hear these youth express a desire to give back to their communities and help others, because of the support and guidance we have provided. These moments show the incredible work that our team is doing and the impact that we are making. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of such an amazing team, and I am honored to be able to work alongside them every day.
I believe that this line of work is important for our community because it promotes long-term resilience, well-being, and positive change. Our focus is not on a quick fix, but rather on empowering people to thrive over the long term, we aim to equip individuals with the tools to overcome challenges, enabling them to achieve lasting success.
Robyn Margeson | Program Supervisor, Manhattan Place (Boys Group Home)
“This work is not easy, but it is so important in building healthy people and healthy relationships in our community”
I always knew I wanted to be in the helping profession, and I originally thought my calling in life was to be a nurse. After about 3 weeks of grade 11 chemistry, I quickly realized nursing was not going to be the career path for me. I headed to university wanting to be a teacher, and then switched my focus to social work not long after, realizing the diversity and scope of jobs you can do in this field.
One of the boys I currently work with has recently saved up his money (and gotten some help from mom and grandma) to purchase his first car. This thing is the definition of a 17-year-old male car – complete with LED lights lining the dashboard. To have him be so proud of his hard work and see a tangible outcome of his dedication was an impact shared by all staff members – especially when it took some convincing to get him up and moving on the days he had early morning shifts at work! It’s refreshing to see the boys in the group home completing “normal” teenage boy milestones.
I have found through this line of work that everyone we work with has the skills, and more importantly the relationships, to succeed without help from professionals, they just aren’t able to see it yet. This work is key in capitalizing on what the client already brings to the table and helps them build, repair and maintain connection for life-long success. This work is not easy, but it is so important in building healthy people and healthy relationships in our community.
Samuel Marroquin | Transition Specialist, James House
“Homelessness impacts us all. Each Calgarian is deserving of a safe and secure space to call home.”
Like many families, mine has had to access supports to deal with the ups/down of life. With the support of a Social Worker, we were connected with the right supports, encouraged to make connections with community, and assisted in creating change. Today, my family is made up of many Social Workers who are seeking to carry on this tradition of supporting others and building up our community.
It is always an impactful moment to meet with an individual who is accessing emergency shelter and support them in moving into the James House. From the moment when we first meet to when we provide them with keys to their new apartment – that hits me every time.
Homelessness impact us all. Each Calgarian is deserving of a safe and secure space to call home. If we have the resources/supports to do this, let’s do our best to support our community and achieve housing for all.
Marie Thiede | Kinship Facilitator, Kinnections Kinship Care Program
“People need people! And ALL people deserve support and help when they need it”
I’ve always felt a calling to help people and support them in achieving their full potential, which I think is essentially what all Social Work is all about. For me personally, after working with children and youth for many years, I became most passionate about supporting parents and caregivers in caring for their kids as well as they can.
Many of our kinship caregivers choose to apply for permanent care of their kinship children. Supporting them as they go through this process and become these children’s forever home makes me so proud of the work we do, because we get to be a part of that process and ensure caregivers feel as equipped as possible for this.
People need people! And ALL people deserve support and help when they need it. I think Social Work, in all its various programming and avenues, allows for all people, whether they have natural supports around them or not, to receive the support and help they deserve in trying times. It is not always an easy job but it is always 100% worth it.
Keshia Bussue | Youth Worker, Manhattan Place (Boys Group Home)
“There are still biases and a lack of understanding from others on why some people struggle”
I work hard everyday because I desire to see others in more complex situations find stability. I am a huge advocate in giving other’s options and educating them on how they can change their lives.
I worked with a client with extremely complex needs. He challenged me and my co-workers because he was intimidating in size and verbally aggressive. A lot of his life had been controlled by his natural supports and he felt like he had no control over his life. I used the approach of giving him options and freedom to decide on what he would like to navigate in his life without feeling like a supported individual. That looked like providing him with a monthly bus pass and a transit app on his phone to help him navigate his surroundings independently on his timing in the community. It looked like allowing him to have appointments alone and speak for himself and build relationships with people within his community. We noticed from this approach that he felt like he was treated by others like a human and not like a person that had supports. He was learning life skills to help him when we were not there to support him. That was impactful to us as a team because we were meeting his needs and working ourselves out of a job.
I believe that this line of work is important to our community because we are trying to incorporate social role valorization. We are helping our individuals communicate and engage in everyday activities with others. We are also providing a voice when they cannot advocate for themselves and healthy techniques of how to handle situations that they may face. There are still biases and a lack of understanding from others on why some people struggle. I think through education and support, we are changing the narrative of what people think and how they can better help the individuals that we work with.
Ellen Zelinski | Kinship Facilitator, Kinnections Kinship Care Program
“Social work is a profession that seeks to continually evolve”
I chose social work because it aligned with my personal values of social justice and equity, it was a career where I could make a difference rather than a profit, and it is flexible with job opportunities. I like that I can work in several organizations that serve different populations and still gain experience that offers career growth.
Having knowledge of and supporting caregivers to access resources is an aspect of social work where the impact can be seen in a relatively short period of time. In my current role, I have supported caregivers to access the Disability Tax Credit or FSCD funding, which has provided a significant amount of financial support for some caregivers who did not realize they were eligible to receive it.
Social work is a profession that seeks to continually evolve. It is a profession that places a high importance on working with the community rather than for the community, which I think is a noble endeavor.
Marnie Johnston | Life Skills Facilitator
“I am continually inspired every day when I facilitate”
I came to McMan 28 years ago as a practicum student and worked with teens. During my practicum, I realized I really liked working with the teens! Then facilitating workshop on a small scale became part of my position. I actually did not choose facilitation; I believe it choose me. As a result, I began seeking out different training to support me to expand my facilitation skills.
I remember a participant who attended the Life Skills Program. This person found it so helpful they attended twice – It was a 2 ½ month program which is already a commitment for youth. They found many of the skills beneficial. This person shared with their extended family some of the exercises we would participate in and as a result, the whole family started to utilize the skills/techniques. This person came back several month later and told me this, and they also said “Marnie, you thought your workshops where just healing me, what is actually happening is that they are healing my whole family.”
Social work is so important for any community because the training/schooling is broad based providing the community with professionals who have a wide range of skills. For me personally, it allowed me to expand and strengthen my skills in the areas that interested me.