By Christo­pher Oak Reinier

The West Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices staff held their Novem­ber all-staff meet­ing last week. At the month­ly meet­ings, the staff report to each oth­er about their activ­i­ties. A WCCS team mem­ber will often present infor­ma­tion help­ful to the work done by all the staff.

Melis­sa Fike, WCCS Direc­tor of Senior Adult Coun­sel­ing, spoke to the staff about the impor­tance of “bound­aries” in the work of serv­ing oth­ers. The pro­fes­sion­al social ser­vice worker’s focus must, of course, be on the needs of the client, not the worker’s needs. The worker’s per­son­al life must be kept sep­a­rate from the work he or she is doing and sep­a­rate from the client’s life. The social ser­vices work­er needs to know the lim­its of his or her role and capa­bil­i­ties and must try not to exceed them. That can be as prob­lem­at­ic as under-achiev­ing can be. It is also the respon­si­bil­i­ty of any social ser­vices staff to take care of his or her self so that per­son­al state of mind or issues do not bleed into client care.  Poor bound­aries are not sus­tain­able in this work, and can ulti­mate­ly lead to burnout.

For peo­ple work­ing in a ser­vice agency, such as WCCS, there can be a ten­den­cy to want to help too much, to do more for the client than Melissa talking to staffis war­rant­ed or appro­pri­ate to the role, to want to fix what is wrong.  It is a noble motive for work but it can lead to the pro­fes­sion­al try­ing too hard, con­fus­ing the bound­aries between work­er and client and inad­ver­tent­ly dis­em­pow­er­ing the client. The pro­fes­sion­al social ser­vices work­er has to keep some dis­tance and must let the client do their own work and iden­ti­fy their own goals.

It’s a care­ful bal­ance for any­one in the social ser­vice field, a bal­ance each work­er must attend to. Not easy. How to care and not care too much, hold­ing that sen­si­tive, but all impor­tant bound­ary.

In oth­er mat­ters, Daniel Bar­wick was intro­duced as the new Sebastopol Park Vil­lage on-site man­ag­er. WCCS has begun a hous­ing-for-the-home­less pro­gram there. The pro­gram will pro­vide eight addi­tion­al liv­ing units for home­less fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als and will pro­vide the full-range of WCCS ser­vices to the 65 low-income res­i­dents already liv­ing there.

Dan­nielle Dan­forth, Direc­tor of Hous­ing, announced the Decem­ber 2 open­ing of the Emer­gency Shel­ter in the Vets Build­ing in Guerneville. A new Shel­ter staff has been hired to man­age it for the four months it is open from Decem­ber through March. The new staff intro­duced them­selves. Each appears to be unique­ly expe­ri­enced and well-qual­i­fied to do the some­times chal­leng­ing work.

Eri­ca Azi­mov has been hired as a case man­ag­er for the Rapid Re-Hous­ing pro­gram for the home­less. Phillip Tapia con­tin­ues his work pro­vid­ing WCCS ser­vices and resources for 95 low-income res­i­den­tial units through­out west coun­ty.

Emi­ly Heinzel­man, Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions, report­ed that the Senior Cen­ter is offer­ing four Junior Col­lege class­es for its mem­bers now:  mem­oir writ­ing, indi­vid­ual com­put­er tutor­ing, cur­rent events, and an art class. The Sis­ters Bin­go event will occur on Sat­ur­day, Decem­ber 9.  The annu­al event fills the Vets Build­ing with bril­liant fun and games, all the mon­ey for which is donat­ed to the Senior Cen­ter.  The Senior Center’s annu­al Christ­mas lun­cheon will be served on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 21. Jean­nette Par­ros is work­ing with 13 clients now as Case Man­ag­er at the Senior Cen­ter.

Valerie Belotte and Miller Pheonix report­ed that the staff of the Empow­er­ment Cen­ter and many of its mem­bers are relieved the Emer­gency Shel­ter has opened.  The cold and the rain have already been hard on the home­less. The staff is plan­ning a Win­ter Sol­stice par­ty at the Empow­er­ment Cen­ter.

Lau­ra Meuller has com­plet­ed work on the WCCS newslet­ter, which will be dis­trib­uted in the next week or so.

Gam Cald­well, Jen­nifer Her­vey, and Jonathan Gali­cia man­age one case at a time to find employ­ment for at-risk youth and adults. Xochi Lubin-Amaya con­tin­ues her work as a high school coun­selor with at-risk stu­dents, while she interns for her MFT license with the in-home seniors’ coun­sel­ing pro­gram.

The work of WCCS con­tin­ues: help­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble in our com­mu­ni­ty to improve the qual­i­ty of their life one per­son at a time.