National Social Worker Month just wrapped up, and in honor of that, we asked one of the social workers here at the National Home to tell us a little about herself and the role social workers play in helping our clients succeed.
Jessica (left) and Cindy DeBow await the busloads of VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members who visited the National Home during the 2010 VFW National Convention.
Many hats, one purpose
Jessica Fortier-Lick has worn a few hats since she started at the National Home in 2005, including helping to launch the National Home’s free Helpline in 2008. As a social worker, she says she has never found another agency that offers the same resources and services offered by the National Home.
“We truly have the ability to help families change their lives, one goal at a time, and provide them with the safe space and time to start anew,” she says. “The National Home is more than an organization. We are a community – one that is strong within our immediate acreage and even stronger through the national support of the VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary.”
One of the aspects of the National Home’s programs that makes Jessica proudest is the care and attention given to each client. Whether families come to live at the National Home or they get the help they need via the Helpline, Jessica says, “The common ground for all of our clients is that they feel listened to, cared for, and respected, which they are. We want all of our clients to strengthen themselves and create better situations for their families, and we try to help them along that path.”
Jessica speaks to a group of VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members at the National Home.
‘Hooked’ on the first visit
She still remembers her first visit to the campus like it was yesterday.
“After leaving the campus from my first interview, I was hooked,” she says. “The campus is truly beautiful and serene, and the staff I met were very warm and professional; I knew I needed to be a member of this team!”
A mom of two young boys, Jessica says her family is her heart and she loves spending as much time as she can with them.
“We love to play games and explore outside with our yellow lab (my third child!), share bedtime stories and movie nights,” she says. “And we are BIG Spartan fans, often attending games together as a family.”
Social workers like Jessica are the threads connecting struggling families with the help they need to succeed. They function as advocates and coaches, walking alongside clients as they strive to meet their goals.
Jessica gets in the holiday spirit for the annual Nursery trick or treating outing around campus.
Never give up!
“I think it is a beautiful opportunity for clients to have a relationship with someone who is truly there for one purpose: to help them meet their goals,” Jessica says. “We help clients to identify and overcome barriers to their end goals, and find them resources to help them in their journey.”
But the job isn’t without its challenges, Jessica notes.
“I think the thing that is most challenging is that despite the outpouring of support for military and veteran families in this country, many of those families still struggle to find the right kind of help when they need it,” she says. “Most of the people who reach out to us on the Helpline are in a state of crisis, usually financial in nature, and while there are lots of great resources out there, there are also lots of people in need, and the demand is still greater than the supply.”
Even in the face of these challenges, Jessica says, Helpline staff never give up.
“Our team does an excellent job of thoroughly researching any and all available resources for folks in need, and are always willing to advocate on their behalf, but it can be disheartening to see how great the need is relative to what support is available.”
Just call. We’ll help you from there.
So, what would Jessica tell someone who needs help? What would you expect?
“Two words: CALL US. 800-313-4200. Even if you aren’t sure if you qualify, or if you’re eligible, or if you’re even interested, call us,” she says. “Our Helpline staff are some of the kindest, hardest working people I know, and we are always willing to listen and to help out in any way we can.”
She urges people not to underestimate the power of a phone call.
” Many people are surprised by the services they receive with a simple phone call and wish they had reached out earlier,” she says. “Whether you are interested in our on-campus programs, or you want to stay where you are but need help accessing resources, or you know of someone who might benefit from our services, just give us a call. We’ll take care of you from there.”