• July 30, 2021
 Op-Ed: I Am

Op-Ed: I Am

I wrote this poem because this is how I see myself in the world. Too often people present those in the helping profession as if they are bestowing gifts and opportunity on people.

I don’t see it that way. I see myself as a partner. I think seeing it any other way is prescribing to that old view of charity where the giver is morally superior, and the receiver is somehow morally inept. I see it as infantilizing.

I want to be a partner to people, to the community. I think that is truly what social work is. It’s filling in the gaps.


I am a bridge.

I connect the hungry to food,

the homeless to shelter,

the isolated to community,

the hopeless to hope. I am a bridge.

I am a ladder.

I support ascension from despair,

climbing toward goals,

reaching for opportunities,

stepping up to potential. I am a ladder.

I am a jar.

I preserve awareness of culture,

access to knowledge and resources,

the right to autonomy and choice,

dignity and compassion. I am a jar.

I am a paintbrush.

I create bold demonstrations of justice,

opportunities to reflect,

freedom to express emotion,

images of what could be. I am a paintbrush.

I am not a savior,

a blessing,

an angel,

a hero.

I do not save, I connect.

I do not bestow charity, I support.

I do not divinely protect, I preserve.

I do not rescue, I create.

I am a bridge.

I am a ladder.

I am a jar.

I am a paintbrush.

I am a social worker.

Author:  Ashley Heidebrecht – Borderland Rainbow Center


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