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“Who helps the helpers?” A Trauma-Informed Care Story

“We’re just loving you through your experiences.” – Lenora Pope, Senior Program Manager, Pathways PA

Emotionally drained, frustrated and defeated, Lenora Pope was ready to leave her career in social services.

“I work with homeless women and children, so there’s a lot of vicarious trauma in my work,” Lenora explained, referring to the toxic stress caregivers often experience when supporting trauma-affected clients.

And at first she was skeptical when her supervisor signed her up for Lakeside Global Institute’s Enhancing Trauma Awareness course, supported by United Way. The course was designed to help her manage her own stress and trauma. And she admits, she expected “just another training.”

Yet it was through this intensive class that Lenora found her true passion and purpose in social service: “Now, I want to be a trainer. These classes saved my life and enhanced my program and skills."

Since completion, she has been able to apply the lessons from the program to her daily interactions. Rather than asking “Why are you doing that?” Lenora started asking, “How can I help you?” She discovered that her work as a caregiver revolves around trying to help in the moment rather than trying to “fix” somebody. And perhaps most of all, Lenora has learned the value of practicing self-care.

“I had a resident who was struggling and didn’t want much to do with her child. I found myself triggered by her, but couldn’t understand why,” said Lenora. “Through this course, I realized my reaction to this situation was related to memories of my mother rejecting me as a child. I was able to take those memories and develop ways to cope so I can better help others.”

Looking back on her journey, Lenora wants to share some advice to current or future Trauma-Informed Care participants.

“Go in with an open heart and an open mind. Remember the safety plan. Rely on your classmates and your instructors to get you through. It’s a safe environment to share. And know that you can’t change anyone, but you can be an example of what change looks like.”

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