March 10, 2020
What it's Like to be an EveryStep Social Worker: Jude Kuehner
Jude Kuehner always knew she wanted to help people in some capacity, but it wasn't until she did a little research that she found the social work field.
"I thought that it would be the right path for me," the EveryStep Hospice social worker recalls.
While it didn't take her long to find a career path she was passionate about, she didn't fall into hospice social work right away.
Instead, she's dabbled in several social work fields including Head Start, case management for and direct care with individuals with disabilities, play therapy and school counseling.
In the fall of 2018, Jude found EveryStep and the world of hospice social work.
Social workers at EveryStep Hospice provide emotional support and education to families and patients on a number of topics, including finances, caregiving, and end-of-life planning. They also help bring patients and family members together, helping them face difficult conversations, mend broken relationships and find peace of mind.
"I was looking for a work experience that was different than I’d ever had before," she notes. "I was intrigued, but nervous, by the idea of trying hospice social work and I am so glad that I gave hospice a chance."
The experience has been rewarding for Jude, providing another glimpse at people's lives and how they deal with emotions, obstacles and life's other challenges.
"I greatly enjoy spending time with patients and families as they share stories about their lives," she says. "It is humbling to learn about their experiences and struggles and how all of those things impact their everyday life."
Jude recalls one family in which the daughter was struggling heavily with her mother's recent decline.
"Thanks to the EveryStep Foundation, the daughter was able to receive a teddy bear with a recording of her mom's heartbeat," Jude said. "The daughter was so grateful to have a piece of her mom with her, even after she passed."
While Jude's work involves tough conversations and providing help wherever it's needed for families and patients, she says she feels most helpful just spending time with families.
"Listening to their stories or worries, or just being a calm, comforting presence in chaotic and emotional situations," she says. "It has taught me that although something I do may seem small to me, it could mean a lot to the people I’m serving."
In fact, Jude says that's one of the most important aspects of being a social worker: creating relationships with patients and their families.
"Social work is a relationship-focused vocation, and that is why it is important," she said. "Relationship development is vital to caring for those in need. Social workers also work hard to connect those they are serving to community resources based on their needs."
Because social work helps others in many ways, there's never been a time where Jude hasn't felt the job is rewarding.
"Although it is hard work, it is very rewarding and an honor to serve individuals at such a vulnerable time in their lives," she said.
Want to make a difference in people’s lives and work for a mission-focused organization? Please visit our careers page.