Sunday, May 12, 2013

Good bye, Farewell and Amen

This Wednesday, May 15, 2013, will be my last day as the Older Adult Counselor at Lutheran Social Services of WI & Upper Michigan, otherwise known as LSS. This is only the third job I've had since I began working at age 14 that I am going to miss; I'm going to miss my coworkers, the volunteers and my clients.
The final year of my graduate program required a year-long internship and I applied and interviewed at the Wisconsin Resource Center.  I really wanted to do my internship there.  The psychologist I interviewed with told me they had two spots available for interns and I was number three. I was bummed, but I told Dr. Trippe in an email that I would keep in touch because I really wanted to work there.  He welcomed my contact.  Please check out their website, It's much easier for you to read about the center than for me to explain the work I will be doing there.  My title is Psychological Associate A; I have no idea what the "A" stands for, but I'll find out on my first day which is Monday, May 20, 2013.
I will be an employee of the state of Wisconsin (which makes Scott Walker my boss in a round-about way) and as everyone is aware, working for the state rocks.  It's not a unionized position, the benefits are great, and although it is uncouth to discuss salary, I will be making approximately $7 an hour more than I am currently making.  For the first time in my working life I feel that I am finally getting paid what I am worth. 
That said, I will very much miss working at the Thompson Community Center in Appleton,>LSS>Services>Aging, and for LSS.  As the Older Adult Counselor I had a lot of flexibility to create a position that worked with clients in the office, on an outreach basis in their homes, and I became very involved in local older adults organizations. If you're interested in seeing my photo and bio visit, click on Counseling, then Older Adults. I have presented to many CBRFs (Community Based Residential Facilities) on topics relevant to the older adult community.  I love research (who ever thought I'd say that??) and I chose topics I would be interested in when I'm approximately 20 years older than I am now.  I've developed some amazing working relationships with The Women's Fund as part of the Community Foundation, the local Capuchin friar retirement community, the Fox Valley Senior Resource Network and the Re-Think Mental Health Share Shop in Winnebago County.  I have been trained as a QPR Trainer (Question, Persuade, Refer) for suicide prevention. I have been on discussion panels, interviewed for older adult issues in the Post Crescent, and facilitated Thriving Caregiver Evenings at TCC, which is a support program for the unsung heroes who provide care without pay or much acknowledgment for their loved ones. In addition to my case load in Appleton, I spent Fridays seeing clients at the Oshkosh Seniors Center,, which is another gem in our community that I wish more people were aware of. 
In the past week I've shared hugs and tears with clients. I have been given flowers and desserts.  I owe a lot to LSS; I completed my internship there and June 13 would have been my two year anniversary as the Older Adult Counselor.  This is not a population I studied in grad school nor was it a population I felt particularly passionate about until "life happened."  My paternal grandfather died on March 5, 2012.  Recently my maternal grandmother, age 84 and still living at home, spent time rehabbing after a fall at the same skilled nursing facility where my grandfather spent his final five years. As I began to work with older adults, I wanted them to receive the same level of care I would hope my grandparents would receive.  I found myself becoming an advocate for older adults.  It's interesting how life leads us down paths we never expected to explore.  That's been my experience working with older adults.  
I'm nervous about working with inmates at the WRC.  Not nervous for my personal safety, but nervous because despite the saber-rattling I can perform, I really take comments quite personally.  Despite my "I'll kick your ass and not think twice about it" demeanor, I'm really quite a gentle soul.  I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to cut it working with male inmates. Other counselors I work with assure me I'll be able to take it and will enjoy the work.  I hope they're right.