The Value of Family…Priceless

 

“It’s not about being rich or famous, but perhaps I can positively affect the path of a child’s life when they are in the helpless and incredibly courageous position of needing help. It’s such a privilege to be able to hear someone’s life story – often about how their experiences have caused them pain, but more importantly how they have developed resiliency and ways to live with pain. I don’t need money or fame, but my spirit becomes a little bit richer every day by opening my own heart to help children”.

Today, I have the privilege of continuing my social work practice as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter. I am now in a position that I love in the social work field, where I’ve been asked many times, “Why did you want to be a social worker?” The answer is quite simple. I wanted to be a social worker because I have a passion and purpose to help children. My need comes from knowing that changing the world starts with helping children and being able to empathize with them. I wanted be a social worker because it feels right. I enjoy seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they get the love, structure and attention that they deserve. Those smiles are priceless!

I may not get a thank you card every day, or even every year, but when I do get a card thanking me for helping a child find their forever family, I can’t stop smiling. To know that I helped a youth in some big (or sometimes small) way is one of the greatest rewards I can get. I take pleasure in seeing children being brought up in loving homes. This is priceless!

In my 18 years as a social worker, the placement that has impacted me the most is a 17-year-old youth. This child came into foster care at the age of three with his two siblings. There was a history of physical, sexual abuse and neglect by the hands of his parents. By the age of five he was adopted and separated from his siblings. He remained with his adoptive mother until age 12. At that age, his adoptive mother surrendered her parental rights, stating that his behaviors were intolerable. He was once again placed in the foster care system and felt that no one would want to adopt him.  He was referred to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program at the age 15 as a “hard to place” child. Through my child-focused recruitment efforts, he was matched with an adoptive family and he was adopted right before his 17th birthday. On his adoption day, he thanked me tremendously and stated that if it weren’t for me he would be lost and probably would’ve aged out of the foster care system without a family or support. This child asked if I could remain in his life and be his Godmother. This shows what profound impact Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters have on the children they serve. This is what makes me rich in spirit and famous in heart!

Deborah Henry-Bennett is a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter who works every day to find loving, permanent homes for children in foster care in the Atlanta area.