I was following a blog series on Why Nonprofits Rock. When asked why I loved nonprofit work, I replied that I loved making a difference in the lives of those who wanted positive change (or something like that). When I tweeted that statement, I reconfirmed to myself why I felt so passionate about my current role as a volunteer and advocate for nonprofits. I love doing work that takes a stand against oppression, injustice, and hopelessness.
However, I can’t deny that nonprofit work can be challenging and exhausting. I have even admitted that I burnt out of my previous position working in the substance abuse field. I became frustrated over time because most of my clientele did not want the services my agency provided. They had the option to either participate in our program or risk losing their children. They grudgingly participated, (sometimes). The highlight my work was the rare occasion when a client became clean (stopped using and abusing substances), stayed clean, (at least the years I was involved) and were reunited with their families. I learned relatively fast, that if I were to provide direct care social services, I wanted to work with people who at least showed a little interest in the services my agency provided. After a break away from nonprofit work, I learned that I was able to work on behalf of people who weren’t particularly thrilled about a social service agency in their life, as long as I focused more on administrative work, addressing the larger picture.
Despite not feeling “at home” in my previous field, I just couldn’t stay away from working for the greater good. I have found that my involvement with nonprofits (whether paid or volunteer) has enabled me to strengthen and bring hope to my community. I have also been exposed to many opportunities to grow as an individual both personally, and professionally. I truly get a special thrill in knowing that my work affects social change.
Mandatory clients are tough, talk about a rock and a hard place… take part in services or have one’s kids taken away.. Although I do believe mandatory obligations are a needed part of our field, I commend you for doing some of the toughest work out there.
Thanks AlmostClever. I agree somethings should be mandatory. After that horrible case NJ had some time ago, you can never be too sure when it comes to substance abuse and so I felt strongly that we were doing what we were supposed to do, protecting the lives of innocent children.
Great post! You are right – it is beneficial to remind ourselves of why we choose nonprofit work, but we can’t ignore the negative aspects, too. When dealing with such difficulties day after day, it’s hard to keep a balanced perspective! What did you do to cope?
Thanks for stopping by Jessica! I hope to see you around again. To answer your question, I coped by sharing my stories at team meetings and taking any helpful advice I could get. I had a strong support system. The counselor I assisted backed me up and so did my other coworker (there was only 3 of us for a long time we were always short staffed). I always did my best to remember why I was there. The field was very near and dear to my heart due to family history.