The Provide Experience: Supporting the Client-Centered Care Approach
by Sara Kaye Larson, Provide Storyteller and Content Marketing Officer
I came on board as the Provide Storyteller just over six months ago. When I got the job I felt like I won the nonprofit work lottery. I was so impressed with the way Provide works to increase access to abortion care. Our program acknowledges the barriers and challenges surrounding this topic in different health care systems as well as the personal and social concerns of the people that work in these systems. Our approach to increasing access to safe, nonjudgmental abortion care is centered around the health and social service workers that serve women facing unintended pregnancy. As the Storyteller, I know this center is where the stories are and where we can open up a useful conversation. To get to know these workers, I’m starting a monthly blog series featuring people who have participated in our Abortion Referrals Trainings. It’s a chance to learn more about the people we train, how our trainings support their work, and hopefully create a space where other health and social service workers can recognize themselves and learn about how others deal with the rewards and challenges of working with abortion referrals.
WE GIVE JERRY FROM ASHEVILLE RESOURCES HE CAN USE
Jerry is several months into his position as Client Care Coordinator for a rape crisis center located in Asheville when we speak. He’s both concise and enthusiastic when he talks about the center and his work. He reminds me of a really likable spokesperson and makes me want to hear more. He’s clearly dedicated. I get the sense that the center is a busy place with a progressive mission and a dedicated staff. He tells me, “We do a lot of client care but we also have a mission to end sexual violence in our community, so we do a lot of community education and outreach.” When he lists his duties, I think of how demanding social service work is and make a note to triple-thank him for taking the time to talk with me. In addition to his community outreach work, his time in the center involves answering the 24-hour crisis line as well as coordinating care and resources for survivors of sexual assault.
Jerry went to graduate school for social work in Florida and his nonprofit experience there was with the homeless population. When he first moved to Asheville, he worked in restaurants until he found his job at the rape crisis center. I can relate to working whatever job you had to do while waiting for the one you really want. Who knew social workers were just like artists and actors— people with dreams and a mission?
The position at the center is his first in the sexual assault field, but he shares the through line in the stories of people that go into social work—truly caring about helping people in need. Because of this, he is able to apply what he learned working with the homeless population. He tells me, “Social workers just tend to work in the things that other people are typically less comfortable with and that other people have a hard time talking about, even in an everyday conversation.”
When he had an opportunity to attend our Provide Abortion Referrals training, he went in with an open mind. “I was excited because as a case manager I would be making those type of referrals, and those weren’t resources I was as familiar with in the community as I was with other things like housing and food.”
I ask him how the Provide training went and his first short answer is an enthusiastic “great.” He tells me, “I probably have never had that in-depth of a discussion or workshop about abortion, so it was very insightful about different stigmas and how lacking in availability those resources are. It was very enlightening about those types of things. It also gave me tangible resources in my own community that I wasn’t as familiar with. It just made me feel like having that information allows me to do what’s most important for me which is being empathetic and supporting a client in crisis.”
Jerry reminds me that social workers appreciate a chance to speak with other professionals about the tough topics they work through every day. The open discussion about barriers and resources was particularly important to him because client resources are an essential part of his job. One part of our trainings involves the participants using colorful post-it notes to create a visualization of all the barriers to different aspects of reproductive health. The end result is different in every location. Jerry says that this exercise was really effective in his group and the amount of barriers surrounding abortion made an impact.
He went to the training with only one other coworker, but they took what they learned back to the center. “After the training we had conversation with the whole staff so everyone had that information. We are already in a very survivor-centered, non-judgmental kind of space, so it was pretty natural for everyone to have that same mindset when it comes to referring people for abortion services. But it wasn’t until the Provide training when they had all of the correct information.”
I am only able to spend a short amount of time talking to Jerry, but I truly know how valuable that correct information was to him and his work.