March is Social Work Month celebrating all individuals who provide social work for the wellbeing of our community. Social workers are the very heart and soul of Jewish Family Services, whether helping people in times of crisis such as the pandemic or in helping them meet the challenges of everyday life. The JFS team collaborates effectively together and with other health and social service agencies throughout the metropolitan area to support and strengthen lives.
Liz Conaway Muensch, JFS Older Adult Care Manager, knows firsthand how social work changes lives for the better. Conaway was working with an older woman whose landlord was not keeping up with the maintenance of her apartment. There was water damage, holes in walls where mice would get in, and continuous odors in the building. The situation was bad and getting worse.
“It was keeping her from life,” Muensch said. “My client never felt clean, she couldn’t have her grandson over to play, and she could not cook the family dinners she’s famous for. She spent most of her time in her bedroom – the only room she could get the least bit comfortable in – watching TV and looking at pictures of her family members, wishing she could invite them over to spend time with her.”
Finding a new apartment proved challenging since the client had a felony drug conviction as well as an eviction in her past. That didn’t deter Muensch from seeking solutions.
“She needed someone to see beyond what was on paper and who she was as a person – a kind woman who wanted a clean home where she could feel comfortable making family dinners and having her grandchildren play on the floor,” Muensch said.
She wrote a character reference for her client to help in her pursuit of housing. While the first dozen places rejected her application, her client – with Muench’s help – found a woman who was looking to rent out a duplex she inherited from her mother.
“They wanted someone sort of like their mother there – someone kind, who cared about their family, and whom they could trust to keep the place up,” Muensch said. “My client jumped up and down when she got the keys to her new place, and I saw her cry again. But this time, she cried in the sunlight on her front porch when she opened her front door to show me her new place. She cried again when we brought in the furniture, she received from Flourish Furnishings so she really could start new and didn’t have to bring any of her damaged furniture or bad memories from the old apartment. She had a new beginning.”
Working with her client, and many others like her is the day-to-day life in the field of social work. It’s work Muensch finds rewarding.
“I get to see someone’s life change drastically before my eyes, and it is living proof our clients are amazing and powerful. Sometimes, they just need a little bit of help to go from one terrible circumstance to an amazing new beginning,” Muensch said.” JFS provides that little bit of help.”
JFS has dozens of stories about its social workers, case managers, counselors, and others helping to improve people’s lives. If you or someone you know would like help from JFS, please contact Navigator@jfskc.org or call 913-327-8250