Community Support Workers Make a Difference in People’s Lives

It’s a cold night. You wrap your scarf tighter around your neck, pull up your puffy and shove your hands in the pockets. You see a frail-looking man approaching from the opposite direction. He’s struggling to move. He’s old, his back’s bent. He holds on to the wall for support, catches a breath, before slowly inching towards the intersection.

“You are doing OK?” you ask, and he mumbles something, gives you a blank stare when you say “Do you need any help?” You search your pockets for some change, but you got nothing. You just paid whatever change you had for your bus ticket. You feel a deep sense of discomfort, helplessness at your inability to help this man. You sigh, think about the unfairness of the world, think about the hundreds and thousands of people who have no one to care for them. A black hummer parked on one of the streets triggers another sharp reaction in your body; you look towards the skies, hoping the one up there would have some answers for you. Or maybe not.

That night you had to go past East Hastings comes to mind. So much injustice, so much suffering, pain in the world. You help out when you can: buying coffee and a bagel for the woman who sits outside Waterfront station everyday with her tiny dog, combing the fur on its back; you assist that large man on the walker to cross the street, glaring at the impatient cab driver who appears annoyed by this interruption.

But you want to do more for the community. As you take a seat in the bus with these thoughts swirling in your head, you look up and see an advertisement for a community support worker course.

“Want to make a real difference in your community?” asks the ad. It seems to be talking to you directly.

“Want to help disadvantaged, at-risk individuals?”

“Want to help create happier, healthier lives for them?”

Could this be the right kind of career for you?

Yes, yes, yes, screams your inner-voice. You feel you will be an ideal fit as a community support worker (CSW).

You turn on your phone’s data, not at all worried about going over for the month, and start exploring more about the CSW course, what they do, what their day-to-day looks like, what kind of difference you can make as a community support worker. The more you discover, the more it appeals to you.

The institute’s website is detailed and helpful. You find out that the community support worker program focuses on building skills you will need to assist those in need with their physical, vocational, recreational, social, emotional and daily skill development;

The description on the web page also tells you that community support workers work at the grassroots level, helping vulnerable children, adults, and seniors gain access to support and social services available to them within their communities. Your heart does a happy summersault. These are the exact things you’ve always wanted to do, to contribute in your own small way to a larger cause, to make the world a better place.

You think about the impact you will be able to make by doing the community support worker course. How you will be able to intervene where help is needed most; how you will be able to guide individuals toward better life decisions, shaping and re-shaping their lives.

The curriculum talks about behaviour management, counselling, developmental disabilities, crisis intervention and more. You also feel great after learning that community support workers are best positioned to understand the challenges their clients are facing and connect them to most relevant community programs and services.

What excites you the most is when you find out that often community support workers develop and deliver programs themselves or work one-to-one with a client. For instance, tracking he client’s progress through an addiction treatment program. While you continue to learn about the skills needed to succeed as a Community support worker, it brings a smile to your face.

Compassion, empathy, a strong sense of social justice, open-mindedness, patience and flexibility are some of the very skills you’ve always believed you had. You recall the dozens of times your family and friends have appreciated your desire to make a real difference; praised you for being someone who doesn’t just talk about doing something, but walks the talk, takes action.

While you were busy deciding the direction of your life, you realise you’ve missed your stop, but you don’t care. Because this is much bigger, you’re finally confident that a career working as a community support worker is the right one for you; that you want to make helping others your purpose in life, wish to bring them happiness. There’s a skip in your step, an assuredness, as you head home, ready and prepared to enrol in the course.

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