May 19, 2017
Why did I want to become a “social worker”? Some might suggest it was due to my environment or the plight of First Nations people. Of course those factors contributed to my decision. However what made me want to become a helper can be pin pointed to one incident, one moment in time, one brief passing. It was only a few years ago when I began to share this story with others, for some reason maybe I felt it didn’t matter or it was too wishy-washy. It was and still is something deeply personal to me. Somehow sharing it with others cheapens it but none the less...When I was sixteen I had the opportunity to participate in a high school native study trip. I had never traveled before and up until that point I led a very sheltered structured life. While at our stop in Vancouver I had ventured away from the group. So I decided to just walk alone and was pretty much loving life in the big city. Then I must have turned a wrong corner because I stumbled across a street that was filled with “homeless people.”In my naive mind I knew they were ‘homeless’ from watching US television. The atmosphere had shifted inside me. I became guarded and at the same time I was in awe. In my naivety I did not expect to see rows and rows of “homeless people” in MY country. This was not the Canada that I knew and loved. I thought homelessness was something that happened in the states or in far away countries I never heard of. Then out of the rows of nameless faces an older white man came up to me and asked for spare change. He had bright blue eyes that were younger than his actual age led on. He had a big grey beard that reminded me of Santa. He also had the same wrinkles I would see on my grandparent’s faces. I had begun digging in my pockets but I knew I had forgotten my money at the hotel room. My hand came back with nothing as I said “sorry, I don’t.” He graciously looked at me, smiled, and said “thank you for your time” and went back into the rows of nameless faces. There was something in his eyes that I have never forgotten. His eyes shone with humbleness, gratitude, and grace. It was this brief exchange that has remained with me to this day. What stuck out for me was how kind and respectful he was to me. He could have been hostile and ignorant in the face of his circumstances. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had been. I often wonder now, at the age of 38, if I could act the same if I were in his situation. Today there are too many people who have everything that act vindictive and uncaring toward one another. I wanted to become a ‘social worker’ in order to give back to the community what that old man gave to me that day. So there is my story. I hope that whoever is reading this that you stumble across someone today that changes your life for the better. Thank you for reading.