No duty is more…

Quote

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.

James Allen

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I was always taught, when I was growing up, to be thankful and show gratitude. My parents used to try and make me write “Thank you” letters to people who gave me presents or helped me in some way. Back then I always had good intentions of writing the “thank you” cards but I never did. It seemed like too much work, and i never really knew how to start them. 
Fast forward to nowadays, I have this urged to write people “thank you” cards, funny how those little values your parents instill on you at a young age, eventually become part of your own core values. This weekend I wrote well over 30 “thank you” cards to the staff at BCRI. They have been truly incredible and have shown such patience with me. And everyone has been extremely friendly and supportive. I have got to see every facet of BCRI, bringing me loads of experience.
In addition to BCRI, I would like to thank everyone that has read my blogs! I know some of them were not that interesting, but thanks for reading anyways. Say thank you to my friend Amanda for the transportation out here and back! That has been so helpful and sweet of her! Thank you to my family for being understanding about me not coming home for the summer! And for their love and support. And finally a special thank you to Juniata college career services office for helping me be able to make this internship a reality with the scholarship! Thank you everyone who was involved in donating to make these scholarships possible! It meant the world!
I will post one more blog entry after my last day here. Thank you all again!!! 

Police have bad days too. The end is near.

Hey everyone,

Time is running down on my internship and now I get to pick the areas I would like to learn more about. I have spent the majority of my time on the Crisis Rehabilitation Unit or CRU for short. This is BCRI’s inpatient treatment program, where the clients get to stay for 10 days or more if doctor orders. They receive mental health therapist support, case managers, doctors, and a nursing station open around the clock.

Most of my time on the CRU has been interacting with the clients and helping Heather (the supervisor of the whole CRU) make things go more smoothly for the staff and clients. The rest of my time I have been a case manager. I have covered for three people as they went on vacation. I haven’t had a full case load but I am happy that they felt confident enough in me to handle three to four clients. This has been a wonderful experience, and opened my eyes to another field of social work. I have come to the conclusion I would not mind doing this type of work, but it is not my first choice.

Now I am spending time with the hotline and the response team again. Yesterday I was listening on a call; a woman had called in to report that her neighbor had come to her and told her that he was suicidal. She didn’t know what to do so she called us. Sakia one of the phone councilors answered and spoke with the man that was suicidal, after collecting all the information Sakia felt as if the man would not contract for safety and needed some help from the hospital to keep him safe. We stayed on the line as Sakia called 911. She spoke to the operator and told them the situation and asked for one of the officers that were trained to deal with a person that has a mental illness and the operator said they always send them out. We stayed on the line with the initial caller. The police arrived and there was a lot of commotion and we could hear from our end, one of the officers with a raised voice to the suicidal guy that all he needed was his medication “upped”. The caller was concerned that they were not going to take him to the hospital, and Sakia sensed this and the rise of anxiety in the callers voice, so Sakia asked to speak with the officer. The officer got on the phone and before she could even tell him that she was calling from BCRI and what the call was about the officer yelled, “I know my job! I know what I’m doing! He needs his meds upped” Sakia looked over at me shocked and I was shocked as well. It was not what I expected to hear, and I could only imagine how the lady that called in felt. Sakia tried to tell the officer that she was not trying to tell him how to do his job, and after that the officer said something rude to the caller I couldn’t hear what it was exactly and he began to say to Sakia that it’s all under control in a raised unprofessional tone. Sakia then asked for his badge number and he gave it to her in frustration and she then asked for his name and he gave it to her in a yelling tone and left the phone. The caller got back on and Sakia asked her if she could get the spelling, the caller asked the other police and they just ignored her. At this time Sakia told the caller that they were going to get a new set of policemen out there. She comforted the caller and told her not to worry, as the situation was extremely intense.

After finally getting the guy taken to the hospital Sakia hung up and called internal affairs. She said lucky I was here and when the investigator answered she told him I was listening in on the conversation and he wanted to speak to me and so I told him what I heard. It was quite the day!

Now for my last couple of days I will be covering for LaQuasha again up in case management. I am excited and sad as the ending approaches but I have learned so much and gained a lot of experience this was most definitely a very positive experience. 

Link

Fighting to see Sun in Baltimore’s darkness

Hello all,

Being in Baltimore for a full month and a quarter now I am more comfortable with this city. As I have wrote before in other posts, the city of Baltimore isn’t as bad as it has been portrayed, at least to my experiences.

However, after this weekend and listening to stories about situations that were happening in and around Baltimore discussed by staff at BCRI, I have begun to see a darker side of Baltimore. When I worked in case management with Erin, LaQuasha, and Brandi, Erin would often just mention in conversation with us how many shooting deaths there were over the weekend and even sometimes just the day before. LaQuasha and Brandi both shook their heads and said it was crazy. But to be honest at the time I was not all that surprised, as in Colorado we have similar problems with gun violence and I would venture to say sometimes we do have just as many deaths from gun violence as was reported here. But as the weeks went on it became an average or a norm that there would be about 4 to 5 gun violence related deaths over the weekend. Highest I remember was 10. This to me, blew my mind as in Colorado, I am not 100% sure if it is just the news I choose to hear or if it is actually true that there are not that many or constant gun violence deaths each weekend as there is here.

To be honest I thought about that for half a second and moved on. But what really set me back was a combination of things. First, on my walks around the city, I have seen lots of homeless people, but that is the case in every city I would imagine. What set these people apart was the majority of them would stand on corners and near bench bus stops and nod off standing swaying as they slowly drifted closer and closer to the ground. Before hitting the ground they usually woke up and stood up again. But it was almost as if nobody was there. No eye contact or asking for money instead they went right back into nodding off.  I thought these cases were because the person was tired or drunk. But as I listened to more conversations at BCRI I found out that these people had been addicted to Heroin or other types of drugs and had sought out help to detox and move on with their lives. The problem with detoxing from these drugs or alcohol is they sometimes need help to not crave this drug anymore, so some facilities (to my understanding of the conversation) give out this drug called methadone that is supposed to help the person cut the drug addiction. But what ends up happening is the person gets hooked on this drug and keeps needing more of it to stay away from the harder drugs, when the person can no longer get any more of the drug the withdraw makes them stop functioning and they nod off standing up at times.

I was absolutely blown away. These people went to seek help about their problem and almost came out just as bad. And the big thing here is that I have seen a lot, and I mean a LOT of this, so if you think about it, every one of those people has been addicted to a hard drug in their lifetime. It’s not just alcohol like in Denver; but Heroin, and others that are, in some cases, so much more devastating than alcohol itself.  

Second, I was walking around on Wednesday, my day off, looking for a place to play basketball. I had my basketball with me and was walking through different communities and every park I walked to was full of kids playing primarily basketball and tag. I was so surprised to see kids as young as 6 bouncing big basketballs around and actually doing quite well. And what you realize for many of these kids, this is going to be their way out of the situations they are in. But as I walked I ran into two kids about 7 or 8 years old. I had my music in and my basketball tucked under my right arm. One of the kids noticed and asked if he could bounce my ball. I looked puzzled at him for a couple of minutes while I assessed the situation seeing if this was a set up or not. When I came to the conclusion that all was well I handed him the ball. And he looked at it and began bouncing the ball just having the time of his life. The other kid asked me if I was going to watch the community basketball game and I said I wasn’t and he said I should and that one day he will be playing there. I said that was great as the other kid finished and handed me the ball back and they both ran off to the community rec center.

I was confused but I walked on and about 40 minutes later I was still walking looking for a place to play, when I came upon 3 little girls about 5, 6, and 12 and a mother or sister about 16 who was carrying a below 2 baby. I passed them smiling and the 12 year old girl stopped me and asked if she could bounce my ball. I was again stunned and looked up at the 16 year old for reassurance, and she looked at me smiled and shook her head so I passed the ball to the little girl.  She bounced it smiling and trying tricks as everyone around looked on and smiled. She finished up and passed me back the ball. It was amazing to experience this, and to see how just that little bit of interaction with the basketball brought such joy to each of these kids.

On Thursday I went into BCRI and while organizing a closet I overheard a conversation between the shift leaders. They were talking about a news report that on the 19th a 16 year old girl was found with her neck slashed. And the person police suspected as a suspect was a 19 year old boy that committed suicide on a basketball court shortly after her murder. Apparently he made everyone get off the court and killed himself there on the court.

Words cannot even explain how shocked I was. After seeing how many kids were at these parks, playing basketball and tag and then having to watch this traumatic event. I cannot even imagine it. And to learn that such a promising young girl was killed like that is crazy; she could have been the girl I saw on Wednesday. I worked the Baltimore Crisis Response hotline on Friday and someone called in explaining that their mother had just found out that her 16 year old daughter had been brutally murdered and she was in need of grief counseling. I don’t know if these were the same incidents or not, but what I do know is it is all very sad and unimaginable.  

There are a lot of sick people in Baltimore, and in every city I would suspect. But as a social worker I am taught to look at the positive, and that positive is BCRI. They deal with so many people in crisis and help hundreds of people with their crisis’s. How many of these situations has this single organization prevented? I would venture to say in the double digits if not triple. On top of that how many people with addiction issues has this place helped? I would argue the same amount and that there are less “nodders” on the street because of them.

So yes Baltimore is a dark city. I often feel like I am in Gotham City walking around here. But it has a place like BCRI that is shining so bright it is lighting up Baltimore. And BCRI may just be the Batman, this city needs.

Running, Calling, Listening.

Hello all,

Sorry it has been a while since my last post.

I will update you all. Last week the week of the 17th I went on runs with the Crisis Response team for the first 2 days of the week (15th and 16th). This was by far the most fast pace unit I have visited since being with BCRI. I really liked it because every time it would be different and you never knew what the potential client would act like or what level of crisis they were dealing with until we arrived on the scene.  

Here’s a breakdown of how it worked. I would arrive on the unit at 8am and two of the social workers would already be there as the crisis team operates 7am to 10pm. We would wait for a call or fax from the Hotline, the hotline is where all the calls come into BCRI. When we got a call we printed out the potential client’s information that was typed up by the hotline councilor, and we would call the nurses’ station explaining we had a run and that we needed one of the nurses to accompany us. The nurses would assess the medical state of the potential client, while the social worker assessed the crisis.

We would get into the car and head off to speak with the potential client. On most of the runs I went on we listened to the individual tell us their story and what they thought their crisis was. Some of the stories were very sad and you felt bad for them, others were just attempts to get a place to stay the night, which unfortunately is not what our program was about. We recommended shelters to those individuals and assessed the others. I got to see seven runs. And we brought five of those seven into the BCRI inpatient program, or CRU unit. The assessments varied, some took a matter of minutes, because the individual declined to come to our program, or the crisis was explained very well by the individual quickly. Others took an average of an hour and a half. The last run I went on Monday lasted three hours!

It was an extremely interesting experience. And the social workers did such a good job with all the individuals making sure they understood the crisis and helped in any way they could.

After going on the runs I moved to the hotline unit. The hotline consisted of four people. Ms. Linda the supervisor, Cheryl phone councilor, Sakia phone councilor, Tiffon phone councilor, and Brianna case manager for suicide cases.

The hotline is the first connection with all of the people BCRI connects with. And on the week I was there just for the month of July the hotline fielded over 13,000 phone calls! The hotline is a 24/7 operation and people call into the line for everything from just needing to talk to someone, parenting advice, strange activities, and most importantly thoughts of suicide.

I was able to sit in their office and listen to the calls, and listen to how the councilors eased or helped the people that were calling in. This is a very hard job, and I give all the respect to these councilors and Linda the supervisor. She has put together an incredible team, which tries everything to help the people that call in. The most amazing part for me was they all stayed calm and relaxed even through the toughest calls and in their calmness; you could tell it calmed the caller down as well.

This is a super high pressure job, and I don’t know if I personally could handle it. It takes a very special person to do this.   I finished the week out in the hotline and it was a great experience. 

Until next time!