My time at White Fields began in May of 2016 as a Master of Social Work student from the University of Oklahoma. During this summer’s practicum rotations, the MSW students were placed at various non-profit agencies throughout the Oklahoma City metro area in order to gain first-hand experience in the social work field. It was my fortune to draw White Fields as my first placement. The plan was to spend the first six weeks at White Fields and then I would be moved to a different agency to finish out my 12-week practicum. I knew very quickly after beginning my work at White Fields that I had been the luckiest student in the MSW program to be able to spend a few weeks at this site. When the time neared for me to move to my next placement, I felt such a connection to the work being done with these precious young souls that I asked to be able to stay for the remainder of the summer practicum at White Fields and was blessed to be able to do so.
The children being served in the White Fields program immediately captured my heart. In addition to my studies in the MSW program at OU, I work full-time as a supervisor in the Child Welfare division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. I have also served as a foster and adoptive parent to children with complex trauma backgrounds. The joys and struggles of loving these children seemed all too familiar. I was fascinated with the servant heart of each person I observed during this special summer of 2016.
When asked to try to capture the essence of my time at White Fields into a short article, I struggled for the right words to convey the beauty of the hearts of the people serving these children daily. As I sat in church one Wednesday evening, I listened as a scripture was being read. It was a scripture I had known since childhood but suddenly it became clear as to how I could describe these servants. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—commonly known as the fruits of the Spirit, were the words I had been seeking. I have watched the staff love freely. They show kindness even after being cursed and spat upon, still giving, with integrity and self-control.
Children who have experienced neglect and abuse often know no boundaries. They lash out with their words and with their fists. They run because they are scared and angry and don’t know what else to do. Time after time, the remarkable team of White Fields comes together to collaborate, create crisis teams and intervene with patience and gentleness. Each employee at White Fields is faithful to the objective of healing the self-esteem of these boys, letting them know someone believes in them. The clinical treatment team looks at every aspect of these young boy’s lives searching for just the right combination of interventions to remediate the effects of their early maltreatment.
Each person I have met during my summer at White Fields will continue to serve as an inspiration as I continue my quest to serve the children affected by complex trauma as well as the families who care for them. One of my special memories will be the morning meetings which many times started with a prayer and ended with Mr. Frank’s words, “Go forth and be productive”, his intent always being the healing and treasuring of the boys at White Fields. Thank you to each and every one for a summer filled with joy as I watched you bring peace and hope where there was once only pain.
MSW Practicum Student