I began working at Santa Maria in 1991 when I was an undergraduate student at Mount St. Joseph University. I fell in love with the grass roots, neighborhood approach to social work that I saw at the Agency. It was so personal, so relational, and so neighborhood-focused. I wasn’t aware of this type of social work existing. I started out as a youth worker and community organizer. During those early years, I was only a few years older than some of the youth I was working with. It was an honor to form relationships and watch them grow as I was growing myself.
“Relationship” is the word that I would use to most fundamentally characterize what we do at Santa Maria. As workers, we build relationships to help those we work with achieve their own relationships and goals. Having been there as long as I have, I have had the privilege of watching several young people grow up. I have seen them have their own children (and some now have grandchildren.) I have seen how, as an agency, we have had an influence along the way.
In the early years, the Sedamsville office was just referred to as “The Center” where lots of gatherings took place. I was part of leading groups such as the teen group, parent groups, the Center Board and other informal gatherings where relationships were formed and strengthened. Individuals were able to receive help along the way with whatever struggles they may have had, while building relationships. Personally, I am so thankful for the lifelong relationships I have built while working at Santa Maria. I know so many others are as well.
In my last 14 years at Santa Maria, I have been working with a program called Promoting our Preschoolers. I have the opportunity to go into homes and meet with moms and preschool age children building relationships with them to help at this stage of life. There is so much that happens as they prepare for school, not only academically, but socially. I enjoy helping work through challenges and celebrate successes with the families I see.
The Santa Maria that I know has always been there for the people! It is truly a down to earth, caring organization. People who work there care for one another and often form strong friendships even outside of the workplace. The staff and volunteers do the best they can to uplift those the organization serves. It is a really great place to work! That is why I continue to work there after all these years!