Social Worker Stories: How The Great Recession Led Me to Bread for the City
March 20, 2019 by BFC
Guest Author: Thea Bryan
The Great Recession of 2008 had left me disheartened and bewildered. The little bit of savings I had was gone almost as quickly as my job as a proofreader for a local engineering company. I had often thought about going back to school before but I struggled with deciding what I wanted to focus my studies on. It was through a temp agency that I landed a position that would change the course of my life.
I was hired as a temp administrative assistant at a nonprofit called Eblen Charities in Asheville, NC. Eblen helped with everything from medication to utility bills and I found myself really enjoying the interactions I had with the clients. It suddenly occurred to me for the first time in my life that maybe social work was something I should consider.
When the job ended several months later I went to the local community college and entered into their associate’s degree social work program. Those first two years were the hardest, but the ones for which I am the most proud. Getting that AAS was truly one of the best days of my life! I couldn’t believe that somehow I had managed to raise two kids alone and complete that degree! Why stop now, I thought? That fall I applied at Lees McRae in North Carolina and went on to finish my bachelor’s degree on time. At that point I had a completely irrational thought: maybe I should apply to grad school. I did just that and in the summer of 2016 I found out I had been accepted at Salisbury University for their MSW program.
I was sent to Bread for the City through Salisbury University. I interviewed with Doncella Hampton and she offered me the internship a week or so later. Now, I am actively learning how to work with clients in a variety of ways and am challenged to push myself further every day. From group to individual interactions, I am learning how to effectively listen to clients and understand their needs. More importantly I have learned that everyone needs to be validated and listened to and sometimes that is the most important aspect of social work.
Bread for the City has been amazing in that working here is truly a learning opportunity. I get positive feedback and I am consistently encouraged and challenged to push myself to better serve the clients. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity this internship has brought me and I look forward to using the skills I have garnered here in the coming future.