Monday, November 05, 2007

What I really do.

This month is basically insane. And so was last month. And the insanity actually feels kind of good. Work is busy. Work is good. I shall talk about work.

So, I get the, "What exactly do you do?" question a lot from my friends. It's mainly because I put up random away messages on my Gmail like, going to a luau with seniors, or it's Karaoke day with the seniors, or I hate calling Social Security, or I hate walking to Skid Row.

First the logistical part: I split my time between my Social Service agency and a subsidized senior housing for low-income older adults. M-W-Fri I'm at the agency, and Tu-Th I'm at the apartments. I'm a social worker at both places, but I face different types of cases in each.

First, the title "social worker" is a little misleading, because I get the impression that you actually need a Masters in Social Worker to be considered a bonafied social worker. I'm what they call a Case Manager. A person who manages cases of different clients. At the senior apartments, I'm known as a Service Coordinator, which means I am the one who is responsible with getting appropriate benefits and services for the residents.

First at the agency. A typical day at the agency starts with me at my desk, sipping coffee and listening to my voices messages from clients with all sorts of questions. Can you help me find a Japanese speaking dentist who takes Medi-Cal? (There are practically none.) I need help taking care of myself, because I'm too old to drive and do housework. I'm homeless again and need a place to stay. I have kids and am about to get evicted.
Then, I spend the day trying to solve these problems, and call all sorts of places, and interpret for my clients. My least favorite place to call is Social Security because there's always a wait. I also sometimes do receptionist work and intake random callers too. My most recent one that sticks out in my mind is a call from someone saying, "The gusty wind blew away my divorce papers. What do I do?"
At the end of the day, it's a lot of documenting. And then, sometimes I would have to walk down to Skid Row so that I can translate for my client to agencies down there so that my client can get the appropriate resources like food and TB tests.
Other than that, it's random snacking and fooling around with my co-workers, who are, to say the least, a colorful bunch. I really really like working with them.

Now at the senior apartments. I usually come in early in the morning, and there's usually a resident waiting for me with a piece of mail they don't understand. More than half of my work is reading complicated / English mail from different places, including government agencies. Half the time, it's life insurance trying to sell shit to them. Sometimes, though, things are more serious, like a letter saying they've been kicked out of their original insurance because some strange broker had tricked them into buying another insurance policy that they don't need. Other times, I spend visiting the residents, which can be good, or really really bad. Like, if you visit them and realize that they are incapable of taking care of themselves. Or if they had passed away. I have yet to encounter an actual dead body, but several residents did pass away since I started working there. It's the way of life, really. (Needless to say, this job has really made me realistic about death. I have never really been afraid of dying, but this job really makes me want to prepare for it.)

Then there are random things like luaus and karaoke. Hey, seniors need an active social life too. I also have lots of meetings to talk about programs, and other internal stuff that sometimes takes an entire day.

So that's what I do. It's really the type of job where anything can happen in one day. I really like that part, but sometimes it can suck ass too.

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