I have watched myself grow a lot in the past few weeks, but I am not sure how exactly to be prepared for this internship. We went through the steps and now I feel like a pro at working the network of different applications they use to organize (and then reorganize) information. I am learning all the tricks of the trade and rules for BFC policies. I am familiar with not only what we offer, but what we recommend. And still when they threw me in the big chair and told me to take over intakes for a day, I was not prepared.

I am the first face they see. I have learned that they think very highly of me–in fact, most clients automatically assume I am a social worker. It is hard for me to explain to them that I do not have that kind of knowledge. I overwhelmingly answer a question with “I don’t know,” which (honestly) who wants that as an answer? So I do what I can, and I explain. Explain away and through their qualms as thoroughly as possible. I can also comfort, which I do a lot. Just this first day I had two full grown women cry. These people are fragile, and so I try my best not to break their slivers of hope they see in their lives. When I commented to the other interns who work as case managers ” I do not know how you guys do it,” I got one answer: “Practice. You’ll get it.” On people’s hope? On their lives? wow. No wonder I felt uncomfortable.

Today another intern and I were sent with a list of 18 clients who were senior citizens and/or severely disabled to be put on a subsidized housing wait-list. Housing is hard, and from what I have heard, clients from 8 years ago who move and then return and are looking for housing, could be up and coming on this list. When we got to NE, we could not help but realize a completely shambled economy. It is so interesting to me how fast neighborhoods change from street to street in DC. We had called a number of times reverberating our intent of bringing in each clients information and submitting their names on the wait-list, yet we were turned down. Apparently “whoever we heard this from” was untrue, and those clients would have to find their way down to the offices by themselves.

I may be putting a harsh tone to her words but the manager was clear– She felt it was an unfair advantage that our clients did not have to be physically present to fill out their information to be put on a list. Our point is that why on god’s green earth would clients bother to show up to write their name next to a number that does not guarantee them anything. Sure without it, they will have no chance at an interview, but it is physically strenuous, almost harassment, for these people to meet these demands. It does not make any sense. Clearly, if there is such a policy where we cannot be the ones to sign up for bulk amount of clients who are in need, then some changes need to be made. In fact, advertise to other agencies that they can do this and make it fair and get rid of this Catch 22, pronto.