Angela Toomer is currently serving her 2nd year as Lasallian Volunteer at Tides Family Services in Pawtucket, RI. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Angela pursued a degree in English at Christian Brothers University.
When I first moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to work as a caseworker at Tides Family Services, I thought I’d never put down my GPS. My job requires me to visit clients’ families in their homes, which means navigate the winding, crooked one-ways of Pawtucket, Central Falls, and East Providence, three tiny New England towns. These towns used to be vibrant, prosperous contributors to the textile industry during the Industrial Revolution, but the cities fell on hard times when the industry moved to the South, where prices were cheaper. Poverty has put palpable stress on most of my families, and as a caseworker, I attempt to lift at least a small part of the burden.
The agency I work with, Tides, works to preserve families, which means keeping kids out of group homes and training schools (aka juvenile correction facilities). After seven months of working at Tides, one of my proudest accomplishments is finally putting down the GPS and feeling at home in a place where I speak half as fast as its residents. And, of course, the accumulation of tiny moments: improbable peace in the middle of chaos, laughter in struggle, and honesty and trust in my co-workers when we realize we all go through our days together.
|On a home visit with Woiwor, one of my clients.|
|My community cleaning up after Blizzard Nemo|
After a few hours of home visits, I head home to my community for dinner with the on-call phone in hand. Trackers are on-call to clients and families 24-7 for crises. So, unless my night involves picking up the on-call phone and possibly going to a client’s home to de-escalate a crisis, my workday is over. Dinner and prayer wraps up my day, and maybe an episode of Glee or a batch of chocolate chip cookies with my community.