For the last two weeks the Urban Ministry Center blog has been featuring stories about our staff members and the excellent work they do. We hope you enjoy learning about our team members and what they love about UMC.
In her position as a Neighbor Services in-reach social worker at the Urb, Danielle listens to a lot of stories. This time, we get to hear some of hers. Originally from Michigan, Danielle came down to live in Georgia and has stayed south ever since. You can find her on the front porch of her house in the Elizabeth area, in a neighborhood full of old trees and old houses.
The porch reminds her of another porch in Roanoke Virginia, a place she thought she’d stay forever. She describes the trees and mountains with nostalgia. “I loved every aspect of it, and nothing could make me leave. And then I got a call from Barbara Thomas. I was like well, except for that.”
Danielle had completed her MSW internship with UMC in 2010 and 2011, after originally hearing about us at a Streetsoccer related party where she was taking pictures for a band. At the time she was about to start graduate school, and was intrigued to learn more about UMC. The more she heard, the more interested she became, as she had always been drawn to working with marginalized populations. After coming to do her internship with UMC, Danielle fell in love. There weren’t any jobs at UMC that were a fit when she graduated, but it worked out in the end.
Danielle’s favorite part about working at the Urb are the relationships “between everybody, where if you need help everybody kind of jumps in.” She also loves that that she doesn’t have to focus on filling quotas or a bottom line. Instead she gets to put relationships first, and take the time to listen. “Not just hearing their story but listening.” Listening is also the most difficult part of her job. “I’m not an advice giver, I’m a listener. But there are times when it is hard to not give advice. That’s not what social work is about. It’s about exploring with someone to find what they think their best option is. It’s not about me giving them directives and then they come back and I’m like check, you did your homework.”
Danielle goes on to describe how she grew to appreciate relationships at the Urb. She mentions how it was initially very frustrating that high barriers and a lack of resources prevented her from immediately connecting people to services. She soon came to appreciate that her role went much deeper than linking people to services. Danielle worked with one individual for months, overcoming his paranoia and mistrust to help to get him housed. When he came in the next day to thank her, Danielle assumed he was thanking her for the housing, but that wasn’t the case. He was thanking her for being there, because when they talked “it was like music. It’s a sweet little tune yo.”
Thanks for sharing your music with all of us Danielle!