This winning story was submitted by Mary Conlee-Smith, Family Specialist for KVC Kentucky as part of our annual story contest.
Social workers routinely play significant roles in the lives of children and families in need. We often help families overcome large life hurdles, and sometimes a seemingly small act can have a huge impact.
I recently worked with a single father named Johnny and his 8-year-old daughter Carol. Carol had been safely reunited with her father after being in foster care for four years. My job was to ensure that the family was equipped with the resources and skills needed for them to have a healthy home life.
One evening I made a visit to their home and noticed Johnny struggling to put Carol’s hair in a ponytail, so I asked if I could help. He responded, “Yes, please!” I then asked Carol if she minded if I helped, and she ran to get her hair brush.
As Carol sat on the floor in front of me, I noticed Johnny watching me intently as I brushed her hair, then carefully pulled it into a bun.
“Wow, I didn’t know you could brush it up like that. It looks really nice!” said Johnny who then remarked how beautiful her hair looked.
Carol said, “Thanks, Ms. Mary,” and ran upstairs to look at her hair in a mirror. She came back downstairs and asked her daddy if he could fix it like that the next day for school. Johnny told her he might not be able to make it look as good as Ms. Mary did, but he would certainly try. Carol could not wait to get to church that day to show her friends her “new bun.”
Though he is her biological father, Johnny recently became his young daughter’s sole caregiver for the first time in their lives. It was a beautiful sight to see him not only learning new parenting skills but to also see his excitement in doing so. These are the moments I carry with me throughout my career. They remind me of how social workers impact lives and make a positive difference for families, no matter how big or small.
KVC Kentucky, headquartered in Lexington, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit child welfare and behavioral healthcare organization that provides in-home behavioral health services, foster care, family preservation and reunification, and other family-related services. We serve more than 12,000 children and families in eight regions of the state each year. Learn more here. If you’d like to make a positive difference like Mary does each day, view our career opportunities.