As we move closer to the OCADSV annual conference I have had the chance to reflect on the reason the theme “Moving from Theory to Practice” is so important to our community. It is a common saying used heavily in academia, especially in social work circles. For those of you that don’t speak this language, just know that when you answer the hotline, go to court, or sort donations you are practicing the theory that we are a community that needs one another to thrive and be our best.

This begins on the individual level when you first the meet the client, as the client moves through the process, the community resources and support are paramount. Finally, you want to think about where the funds came from in order for you to provide these services.  Sometimes practice means tracking the number of clients you worked with each month.

Why do you stay committed to this work?  This is a question that only you can answer. Staying committed to this work can be challenging because of the long hours, low pay, crisis management, and the toll it can take on your mind, body, and spirit.  However, there is a silver lining, you may have the benefit of seeing your hard work pay off by the simple smile, hand shake, or a hand-written note that may arrive at your agency months after you helped someone file a restraining order, find housing, go back to school, and the list goes on.  This work allows you to be a part of much larger community than you are aware of because you are helping people in a way that makes the entire planet better.

I believe that moving from theory to practice in regard to equity, inclusivity, and social change means that we “do what we say!”. When we say, “empower, hire, and promote with an equity lens and help survivors from marginalize communities”, then do it, show it, and prove it. If you are struggling taking action on these topics, know that you can ask for help and support from your peers and folks here at OCASDV. Theory is in the head and practice is in the heart and together they support the outcome for survivors and your agency.

I recently had coffee with a dear friend and mentor and we were talking about my career path and she said something very profound, “You have been on a spiritual journey and looking for the “right job” isn’t what you were searching for it was how to truly utilize your talents, skills, and knowledge to help others.”  I have a hunch that many people working in the DV/SA field or any helping profession want to follow a mission statement similar to ours. We may think we know what we are searching for and life tends to bring us back to the center of what we know and do best, whether we want to acknowledge at the time or not. I encourage you to reflect on this Hopi Indian Elder quote that embodies the essence of our work, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

About the author

Renee Kim
Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
Renee began her career working in a domestic and sexual violence advocacy program in the early 1990s. Later she coordinated a VOCA-funded project that outstationed victim advocates in law enforcement agencies. She then moved on to become the state administrator for the STOP Violence Against Women grant program at the Oregon State Police. After completing her Master's in Social Work, Renee worked in the higher education TRIO program, supporting first-generation low-income students. Renee has also served as a program supervisor and social worker for a local county. Most recently she worked as a counselor at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Her passions are social justice, education, and helping people transform their lives into something they may have never imagined. She enjoys reading, writing, arranging flowers, and tidying up cluttered and disorganized spaces.
Blog Category: News