By Vicki Marsh Kabat
Arnold Hider, BSW 2009, started his education in computer programming, but ultimately it really wasn't an option for him. "I was born into the helping profession," says the BSW senior from Dallas.
His father, Arnold Sr., is a social worker and owns Professional Social Services Network, which provides an array of services for people in need. His mother, Elsie, is a nurse at an elementary school, and his older sister, Shlonda Carey, was a teacher and is now a business consultant.
"I know I'm there to help them"
It was one summer working with his father that Arnold realized how much he loved helping the elderly. "That's when it really clicked for me," he said. "I went into their homes to talk to them and see what they needed, and I knew then I wanted to work with the older population."
With that in mind, he went to his field placement meeting with Ester Flores, Undergraduate Field Director, with three local agencies in mind. But Flores had another option she challenged him to consider.
"She talked to me about a placement with Adult Protective Services," Arnold says. "I had heard of CPS (Children's Protective Services) but not APS."
Adult Protective Services is a federally funded program that investigates allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation and also provides services for persons 65 and older or for those between 18 and 65 who are on disability.
Arnold still wasn't convinced but agreed to interview with Rachel Portnoy, Community Initiatives Specialist with APS, and that's all it took. Now, as he prepares to finish his BSW, he's hopeful he'll be able to work for APS. If not, he still plans to work with the elderly.
"There was one woman whose utilities had been shut off, so she had no heat. She didn't have any food and not enough clothing. It was so cold in her home and her face was so sad," he says. "That took a toll on me."
Arnold remembers when his paternal grandmother, Otha, died from cancer. He says he wishes he knew then what he knows now so he could have helped her more. Instead, he's helping others. "By helping the people I work with now, I feel like maybe I'm doing that for her," he says.
Even though Arnold came to Baylor knowing he wanted a social work degree, he found he had a lot to learn about himself, and that the BSW program helped him do that. He says his professors challenged him, pushed him out of his comfort zone, and helped him grow. "They just kept telling me to be myself, to work out of that."
"When I came into the program, I thought I was going to change people's lives," he says. "But as I'm leaving it, I realize they've had as much effect on me as I did on them."