March 23 – by George

242/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  One of my favourite yet craziest and most challenging jobs I ever had was working for Social Services and Housing (Welfare) when I was in my very early 20s. My mom – the crazy, judgmental parent (at times) told me that I would get killed working with those people!!! Yup, that’s the type of advice she’d give me when she didn’t understand things. However, I learned so much about myself in that job especially growing up on this side of the fence. I worked with many people over my two and a half year career but the people I remember are some of the stand-out clients. The one guy that really affected me was George. He was First Peoples and my client at the Main and Hastings branch that I was a regular at. We had some crazy times in that office – I mean the front desk window was made of plexiglass and you’d think we would be safe when the main Vancouver police station was across the street but no, we had many incidents that required the shutting down of the office. I learned how to set up my office so I could run out if I had to for my own safety!! George would come in high and sometimes homeless losing his cheque over a drinking binge. But he would always be honest with me and own up to what had happened. He’d crack jokes and I felt a fondness for him as he was real and I didn’t feel like I was being used just as a money conduit. He took my advice for rehab classes – unfortunately never really finishing them.   When I switched offices, of course I lost contact with George but one day I happened to be downtown with friends and there was George! He saw me and recognized me and called out my name and I was like “Hey George” – he chatted with me briefly but sadly he was aware of the awkwardness from my friends but I gave him the respect he deserved. He high fived me and cracked another joke and then he was on his way. I’d like to think that I made a difference in George’s life and that he found his way but that’s probably not the case; however, he was one of the reasons that I got into teaching as I knew my role was to make an impact earlier in lives rather than later. Thank you George for showing me that everyone is worthy and to keep me cognizant of why I teach.

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