Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why social work?

Once in your life you may feel a great sense of responsibility. Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel called this duty, “the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century - solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community.” Marcus Aurelius, last of the "Five Good Emperors” of Rome and, a brilliant philosopher, did not regard this as duty but love. The meek will quote Frederick Buechner “a calling is the place where your deepest gladness meets the world's deepest need.” The truth about a calling is that you don’t do it because you have to, someone asks it of you, you do it because you truly want to.

Let me start by saying social work discovered me. I was a full time musician, on tour and was asked to take part in working with the Ontario Early Years Learning Center to help develop a music program for families. As a performer it's common to supplement your income with teaching which I had been doing for many years so it wasn't a stretch for me to get off the road and take some time away to commit myself to a project like this. At the time my parents were also becoming involved as foster parents. I had left the nest a few years before to venture out on my own, discover myself and pursue a career in music and they brought children into their home which to me made perfect sense, I had (and still have) amazing parents with a lot of love in their hearts. 

By the time I was working on this new music program, my parents became foster parents to seven kids. This really opened my eyes to a completely new world. Each child had their own story and especially their own experiences they brought to the family unit. Immediately I recognized that the people who mattered most and made the greatest positive impact to them were the ones who were simply there. So, this sense of duty, love or calling didn't crop up overnight. It took some time to cultivate it but at this point it's been six years in the making. Regardless, I feel it everyday now. Social work has become my passion.

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