Daily Work is a Judgment Free Zone
A key learning objective for students of social work is identifying and managing personal and professional values, especially when they conflict. For example, at Daily Work one of the most difficult barriers a job seeker can face is a felony record. Often, these felonies are alcohol or drug-related, but sometimes the felonies are more serious, such as assault or sexual assault. Depending on the nature of the crime, this might come into direct conflict with our personal values. We might question whether or not we can or want to help someone who has harmed someone else in a way that offends our deeply held personal values. In the social work world, we call this an ethical dilemma; my profession requires me to help this person to the best of my ability, but the voice inside my head is asking "Does this person deserve my help?"
Of course, all of us working in helping professions frequently experience conflicts with our personal values on lesser issues. For example, we might question how a person receiving public assistance spends their money or how a person without a job spends their time.
For me, this relates directly to our personal privilege, access and opportunity and how our culture, life experiences, and opportunities (or lack thereof) directly shape our decision-making processes and our judgments. To effectively help people at Daily Work, we must identify and acknowledge our own bias and judgment and learn to meet people where they are at in their life’s journey. Once we hear their stories, we often learn that the choices they made were understandable and even logical, given their unique set of circumstances.
Here’s an example: At a recent seminar I attended, we learned about a child that hoarded food in his room, even though the kitchen cupboards were full. Later we learned that the child had come from an abusive home, where food was often withheld, even when available. Given that experience, wouldn’t we all take such action to protect ourselves from hunger?
Our goal at Daily Work is to empower job seekers, help them find their strengths, and ensure they understand what will be expected of them in the workforce. To do so, we strive to help them learn from their past experiences, not run from them. As a needed access point for many people who both desire and deserve new opportunities to find personal and employment success, we work hard to keep Daily Work a judgment free zone. For all of us, dwelling too much on past events (e.g. feeling bad about ourselves or others) only makes it harder to find future success.
The next blog post is a great example of Daily Work in action. It demonstrates how we help people like Greg, who had significant employment challenges including a felony record, get a fresh start, a new career, and a fulfilling, independent life.
Greg’s story is also a great example of how collaboration with people and organizations such as donors like you, state and/or nonprofit agencies like vocational rehabilitation, and student interns like Virginia, are working together to make our community a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Follow the link to read more about Greg's story: http://daily-work.org/means-end/
This post was written by Julie Hoff, executive director, at Daily Work.