Social and Community Service Worker (Episode 103)On October 19, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Helping communities takes a special set of skills. Our next guest is on the front line, ready to lend a hand. Today, we’ll learn about the rewarding career of the social and community service worker. Hi! Hi, there, I’m Viviana. I’m Brenda Baptiste. Welcome to the Osoyoos Indian Band. Thank you! I’m Brenda Baptiste. I’m a community support worker for the Osoyoos Indian Band in Oliver, B.C. A social and community worker is a fairly broad term. It can be anything from a community health nurse, from education coordinator, even a human resource worker. It’s defined by the work that you do within the community. Your goal is to build capacity and empower the community, so that they’re on the path to health and wellness. I work with leadership to develop programs for youth, for families, for all age groups… based on the needs of the community. So, this is our council chambers. This is spectacular. What kind of conversations happen in this room? This is where I come to meet with Chief and Council. I would either propose a new project or a new program. I’d also talk to them about how they’re going to be involved in those programs. The great thing about this role is that it’s so varied. Even though you have office hours 8:30-4:30, it’s really dependent on what’s happening in the community and what the needs are. Generally, you will work weekends. You will work evenings, and you don’t resent that because you truly do the work when it needs to get done, because you’re dealing with people. So what kind of projects you have on the go, right now? We have a number of projects. We’re doing accreditation for all of the Osoyoos Indian Band health programs. We’re doing a BRIDGES program, which targets youth with barriers for employment and training and we a building healthy leaders program. You may be running a number of different programs in a week, so you have to be able to keep all of those programs operating efficiently. You have to know who’s going to be running what. I think the thing that attracted me to this line of work is that I have the opportunity to serve my people. I’m First Nations. It is part of my responsibility as an Okanagan woman. It’s part of my responsibility as an Osoyoos Indian Band member to serve the people within this community. Definitely high school education is important, but there are post-secondary degrees that, that are useful whether it’s a degree in nursing, a degree in social work, a degree in community administration or other certificate programs that really give you the technical side of the work that you’re doing. You will be working with budgets, collecting data to evaluate whether those programs are successful. You need to be able to evaluate and assess and build programming that’s measurable and that’s meaningful. You need to be able to assess your clients, and where they’re at, and what kind of services and what kind of support that they need. The opportunities of this type of career: you can work in a number of different areas, whether it’s health, whether it’s social, or even economic development, because a lot of the skills that you learn and that you experience are really working with people—but it is working with people in a very set, organized way. You need to have a lot of energy and you need to be able to take care of yourself. There are things that you deal with within the community that are challenging. There are things that you deal with in the community that are incredibly fulfilling. The most rewarding thing is that I have the honour of… being with community members at their most vulnerable times. But it’s also one of those roles in the community where it truly is a calling. You have to be passionate about this type of work. It’s actually more than a job. Brenda, thank you so much. It’s inspiring to meet somebody who’s doing such wonderful work in the community. Thank you for coming to visit us. Once again, I’m Viviana with Career Trek, reminding you that this career could be yours. We’ll see you next time.