Student helps ease workload in busy Multi-Service Center
As with other social service agencies in the county, the recession has made the De Soto Multi-Service Center busier.
"What we are seeing is an increase in first-time users," said De Soto Multi-Service Center director Jodi Hitchcock. "All the social service agencies have noticed a very sharp increase — the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, everybody.
"We've definitely seen an increase in the number of people we see from Shawnee."
With the added traffic to the always busy office, Hitchcock is pleased to receive the help from a Kansas University student. Kelly Moore, who is working on her masters in social work at the KU Edwards Campus, started an eight-month practicum at the center in early September.
"The goal is to help people who need help," Moore said. "I sit in and learn.
"This is a great opportunity."
At De Soto, Moore will get an introduction to a second career she admits is far different than the one she once pursued. The Olathe woman got her undergraduate degree in journalism from KU before working for Black and Veatch Corporation.
"I was in an office on the Plaza," she said. "I knew I didn't want to return to the corporate world. That's not what I want to do anymore.
"From the time I was young I was interested in helping others."
The center gave the students who proceeded Moore ample opportunity to do that in far better economic times. Moore understands she'll be on the social service frontline three days a week through April.
But Moore said she didn't view her new career as a different world than the one she left or those she would work with as different than her old associates and clients. Social workers help those who have been marginalized for many different reasons, be it economic circumstances, physical limitations or health, she said.
"They are people who have needs," she said. "Everybody could use the need the services of a social worker some time in their lives. Everybody has needs."
Hitchcock has a lot to teach her, including how to keep the enthusiasm she is bringing to the job as a student, Moore said.
"Jodi and I were just talking about that," she said. "There are up days and there are down days. You can't get too cynical. There's a difference between cynicism and savvy. A good social worker has to be savvy without being cynical.
"I'm pretty savvy."