I grew up with friends whose parents kept foster children. Watching them, I developed an appreciation for the work that foster families do. I came to view them in much the same way as missionaries to third world countries. Worthy of an incredible amount of respect, but a mission that was definitely not my calling.
In college, there was no way I wanted to get involved in psychology or social work degrees. I'd heard enough of the drama that went on from my fostering friends to know that I would not have the patience for it. Again, respect for those who choose the fields, but still not my calling.
Then ten years after getting my degree in General Studies, I was job hunting. I had worked a myriad of full and part time jobs. I had even spent a few years as a stay-at-home-mom, but I was looking for something new, challenging, and fulfilling. In short, I was looking for a career. I happened to see a posting for an administrative assistant at CASA for York County. I looked at the skill set required and said "I can do that." Then I started learning about the mission of CASA for York County. And I found an organization I could believe in.
Six months after that I attended a workshop on childhood sexual abuse and had the most unexpected reaction. It took me three days to figure it out, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what the long term effects of abuse were. I wanted to know how the abuse would affect the development of children. So I went back to college for a Psychology degree, while continuing to work in the office at CASA for York County.
And with each class, each case, each workshop, I become more certain that this is where I belong. I may not be cut out to take in abused and neglected children. I may not be the person to work with families to get them back on track. But, I am the person to stand behind those people and give them the support they need. Maybe in the future I can take a more direct role. But for now I am right where I need to be.
There are many ways to help abused and neglected children. Some people work directly with the families. Some work only with the parents or the children. Some people donate money or resources. If you have a heart for getting directly involved, then hats off to you. But if that isn't your thing, there are still ways that you can help. Don't let fear or a belief that you aren't cut out for this field keep you from doing something.
I went from believing I would never be a part of the child welfare system. But I learned otherwise. Now when people ask me why I work at CASA for York County, I can say, "This is where I found my calling."