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Running Head: Interview Paper

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Interview Paper
SW 3010
Robin 2/7/2014

Running Head: Interview Paper

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Setting up the interview was challenging. I am not as familiar with social work resources and connections as much as I would like to be, so the odds were already against me. I started off by calling the most obvious institutions; Department of Human Services, hospitals, senior centers, etc. Then, I tried searching for mezzo-level social workers by using Google search engine and asking around for ideas of places that Bachelors of Social Work are employed. Many institutions didn’t even employ social workers period, even major hospitals like Henry Ford Hospital of Grosse Pointe. Institutions that did employ social workers were extremely difficult to reach. I would get hung up on in the process of being transferred several times or I’d leave voicemails with no return. I think 20 would be fair estimate of how many phone calls I made before finally scheduling an interview. As the pre-approval due date drew close, I was desperate for a volunteer. I thought of homeless shelters as a last hope and after a few calls, I finally found a volunteer. As a stranger asking for help at the mercy these worker’s availability and mood, I felt very inferior. It revealed to me the nature of consumer/market initial interactions. Not all consumers are aware of the implications of an organization’s busy schedule; and not all workers at these organizations give the benefit of the doubt for serious consumers. These two attitudes combined can often create a condition for misperception and failed opportunity. Initial interactions are difficult for consumers. They are faced with the constant apprehension of the recipient’s negative reaction, much like I experienced in my interactions. If there is anything I learned from this phase of the assignment, it is the degree of importance that workers render a warm, affirming welcome to consumers. First impressions mean everything. They keep relationships in line from the beginning and give way to smoother future interactions.

Running Head: Interview Paper Section 2

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On Friday, January 24th I interviewed Jessica Winalis, BSW. She earned her Bachelors of Social Work at Wayne State University in the spring of 2013. She is a case manager at McRest Homeless Shelter in Roseville, Michigan. She meets with 30 clients every week to connect them with necessary resources and follows up with them to facilitate and track their progress. McRest is affiliated with over 90 churches. The shelter itself serves as an administrator of services provided. Clients will actually sleep at one of the service participating churches. Signup and follow up meetings are held at McRest. Ms. Winalis will also visit the churches for additional follow up meetings. A significant amount of her clients are age 25-30, many women and children. Many are also lacking a high school education, are reoccurring clients, or are mentally ill. Ms. Winalis works on linking her clients with medical, housing, job search, food benefits, childcare, and transportation resources. The shelter has an advanced tool which inputs client information into a resource system. This system expedites the client connection process. Her elderly clients need more assistance which requires more resources. The circumstances that lead to these clients’ homelessness are uncalled for. Many had a spouse pass away, lost their job, their previous home caught on fire, or they are recently divorced with nowhere to go. Another dilemma that clients face is that no daycare is available for the unemployed. This restricts them from doing their job search during the day. The shelter has a 90 day maximum stay policy. After 90 days, the clients must be discharged. They are not allowed to return for one year. Tough decisions made constantly in Ms. Winalis’ position. Ms. Winalis must discharge the clients from the shelter. Too many times, she will also have to turn clients down because they do not qualify for the service or the agency is full. This is one of the most difficult parts of her job because she worries about what will happen to them next. She also has to made child protective and adult protective service reports if she suspects abuse. Many of Ms. Winalis’ decisions are led by legal implications in the NASW Code of Ethics. Every client must take a Breathalyzer test before being admitted. If a client is intoxicated, they have to participate in a treatment plan.

Running Head: Interview Paper

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McRest is funded through grants by multiple programs like Salvation Army. Most funds come from state programs; however figures are small. For example, one program pays the agency $8 per client. McRest has earned a few of these grants through vigorous grant writing to numerous programs. With this, the agency has barely enough to provide the services they do. According to Ms. Winalis, the agency used to employ a grant writer, but this position was cut due to lack of funds. Ms. Winalis feels very frustrated with the world of homelessness. She feels that there is too much need and not enough resources. Sometimes she can’t sleep at night because she is so worried about her clients. This job has been life altering and she is more grateful for what she has. She said that she realizes homelessness could happen to anyone, even her. This reflection based on her observations of clients that suffer due to unexpected and undeserving circumstances. When I asked her what she would like to see improve, she said that she would like to see an agency that specializes in spotting homeless individuals on the street and transport them directly to the office. She mentioned that there is only so much her agency can do. McRest, like all agencies has a small budget that limits its services. “A shuttle bus would also be ideal”, Ms. Winalis said; but this is obviously something the agency cannot afford. She also thinks that the federal government should be more involved with the issue of homelessness. Private agencies with extremely low budgets are just not going to cut it. All in all, Ms. Winalis says she is doing the best she knows she can do. McRest is a provider on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. The one-on-one case management that Ms. Winalis conducts is micro level practice. Client referrals made to all the services that partner with McRest such as the churches and mental health facilities, and Alcoholics Anonymous are all forms of mezzo level practice. On a macro level, workers at the agency will often attend community awareness events and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) meetings.

Running Head: Interview Paper Section 3 This interview was very useful to me. As I listened to what Ms. Winalis had to say about the

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oppression she witnesses, I was so drawn to the issue. I wanted to know everything about this population of homeless people and why this was occurring. My heart went out to her and her clients. I was appalled when I learned that there are so many people in need, yet many people ignore this issue or think they are immune to it. After my discussion with Ms. Winalis, I knew that this was a problem that needed more attention. I thought about the many things in life I take for granted and felt thankful for them. I highly support agencies like McRest; however, I agree with Ms. Winalis that resources for the homeless should be expanded on a macro level. From what I perceived in the interview, most homeless people are in undeserving situations and have better intentions than one might think. I concluded that most homeless and other oppressed people are born into a culture of poverty; they have low standards and believe the stereotypes directed towards them. Since my pursuit of becoming a social worker, I can see how labels manifest into people; they control and literally obliterate whole populations. Take Detroit for example. For decades, it has been the most segregated metropolis in the world. When the white flight occurred in the mid-20th century, Metro Detroit became so polarized. Between the race riots in the city and the discrimination in the suburbs, hatred grew. Whites wrote blacks off as a way to rationalize their inability to collaborate with them and labeled them derogatorily. Having done this interview experience, I feel more compelled to make a difference. I am contemplating going into the policy field of social work so I can help implements macro programs that I strongly advocate.

Running Head: Interview Paper

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