Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Means of Support

This is #2 in the (occasional) Nine Necessary Connections series. If you missed the Introduction, you may find it here:

I chose to start with this connection, of the Nine Necessary Connections, in large measure because of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (

Generally, a means of support is considered important in order to have the basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  In preparation for writing this, I've been thinking and I've come to the conclusion that one doesn't have to have a means of support before or in order to have some of the other connections; connections that Maslow might have placed higher in the hierarchy.  For example, my very limited experience and work with people who happen to be homeless has shown me that they often have strong connections to a significant other and to groups.  They are likely to have a connection to history, certainly as our personal histories tend to center around family.  In reality, it is easy to see how a person who is homeless may have all of the necessary connections.

About age 13 - volunteering as a Candy Striper
This connection to a means of support has been easy and mostly rewarding for me.  My first "job", as it was for many of us girls growing up in the 50's and 60's was babysitting.  I charged 50 cents an hour and 75 cents after midnight.  I starting babysitting when I was 11.  In hindsight, that was pretty young.  However, I had taken a babysitting course, and had a sister 10 years younger than me, thus I had infant experience that most of the other neighborhood girls didn't have.  I babysat until I obtained my first job at the local Dairy Queen (back when they sold only soft serve ice cream!).  I loved working.  Working got me out of the house, use of one of my parents cars, money to spend and to save.  Essentially I've worked ever since I was 15 years old, with the exception of four months of maternity leave with my daughter and two years as a stay-at-home mom after we had moved to NJ, living with my in-laws, before buying our own home (when of course I needed to go back to work).

How does the means of support connection sync with the existential questions? (see the About Me section up above):

Does my life matter?

Indeed I think it does and has.  I recently did a rough calculation of the number of children and families I have worked with over my 35+ year career as a social worker and guesstimate that I have touched the lives of 10,000 kiddos, their brothers and sisters, moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other assorted family members.  I know that every child I have worked with has had an impact on me, and I hope that my connection to those children and families was positive for them.  Whether it was babysitting or social work, the following quote from Forest Witcraft fits for me.

A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank..but the world may be a better place 
because I made a difference in the life of a child.

Have I been the authentic me?

Center Stage as a CEO
I have!  I'm quite fortunate to love what I do and to have been hired, supported and encouraged to do what I love!  I found my calling.  The path has meandered over the years, always to great new places and roles.  If someone had told me early in my career that one day I would serve as a non-profit CEO, I wouldn't have believed him or her, yet that is precisely where I wound up and where I think I've been happiest and probably made the most impact.

What do you think?  Was Maslow correct?  Do we need to have a means of support in order to move up the hierarchy of needs? Or are we able to have other connections even when our means of support is challenged by homelessness or finding ourselves unemployed?  How do/did we create work ethic in our children?  How do we help or support our children in going a means of supper that has deep personal connection for them.

Would love for you to comment below!

CREDITS: Pasztor E., Polowy, M., Wasson, D., Wolf, M. (1987). Preparing Youth in Out of Home Care for Interdependent Living (A Training Manual for Forster Parents, Child Care Staff and Social Workers). Atlanta: Child Welfare Institute; and West Hartford: University of Connecticut School of Social Work.


Candy Striper, probably 1967, photographer unknown @ Community Hospital of Boulder, CO

 CEO, TeamPhotoGenic, 2013

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