Note from Melinda: Heather Bradley-Geary, macro social worker extraordinaire and all-around awesome person, agreed to do this guest post to give my students and others a sense of what it looks like to make the decision to choose macro social work practice and to make a career out of it. I know that she’d love to hear feedback, so please leave a comment with your reactions, and, thank you, Heather!
State Government Worker…Social Worker? Say What?
Hello! My name is Heather Bradley-Geary and yes, I am a Social Worker. Yes, I work for the Government and no, I am not a clinician. I received my undergraduate degree in Music Therapy. After graduation, I provided direct care to children diagnosed with Autism. Although I love music and children, I was quick to learn that Music Therapy was not my true passion. After two years, I left my career in Music Therapy and started working in the inner-city providing neighborhood revitalization. It did not take long for me to realize that this was my calling in life and went back to school to pursue my Master’s degree in Social Welfare, with an emphasis on Social Work Administration and Advocacy Practice.
The first year in the Masters program, I often felt scared that I had not chosen the right path; however, when administration classes began (my last year), I walked into a room of twelve amazing women (my classmates) and never felt more sure of my decision to continue in social work. Don’t get me wrong; I am so thankful there are clinicians in the world. However, I would be a terrible clinician. I cannot focus on the micro level and always have the urge to change the system.
After receiving my Master’s Degree in Social Welfare, my career path led me to where I serve the state of Missouri currently. I work for an agency of the state as the Trust Fund and Community Initiatives Manager. I can honestly say I wake up every morning and am excited to go to work. What an amazing feeling to make a difference on the macro level. My job entails administering the Missouri Housing Trust Fund and the Balance of State Continuum of Care, both funds that serve people who are considered very low-income. My job always gives me the ability to advocate for those that seem “invisible”: the population experiencing homelessness.
My life’s work is to end homelessness. Housing is a right and not a privilege. I strongly believe that no person should have the ability to decide who should receive shelter and who should not. Every human has the right to shelter. Even further, every human has the right to permanent housing.
I am a social worker and I live by the Code of Ethics every day. Social work is so much more than counseling one on one. It is the constant advocacy to provide for every human. My chosen field is to end homelessness; when I leave this world, I hope that a footprint has been set and the mindset in our world is that housing is a civil right. I want to make homelessness a word from a different lifetime.
On a personal level, I could not live my dream without the amazing support of my husband, Brian Geary, and my truly wonderful children, Breanne and Micah. My wish is that my children learn from my example and always advocate for the “invisible” and those who cannot advocate for themselves. I can tell you that I learned from example from my loving parents, Scott and Pam Bradley.
My words of advice to anyone who reads this blog is to live your dream! Be true to yourself. It is okay to be a social worker and not a clinician.
hbgeary at yahoo.com