The Caring Force Blog February 2024 Workforce Hero: Sydney Carter

| Caroline O'Neill

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our February TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Sydney Carter, a Community Engagement Specialist at REACH Beyond Domestic Violence.

1. Tell us about your background.  How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

Since I was a young person, I have had a strong drive to give back to the community. I didn’t know how but knew I would find a way. In high school, I became aware of people in my community getting opportunities that others weren’t. At the time, I was not educated on systematic barriers and the oppressive frameworks that systems were built on, and I was extremely conflicted. Once I got to college, I became more educated and started to get more involved with the Title IX office on my campus. I had an amazing mentor and a group of peers who showed me how my passion for supporting others could manifest into a career. I was re-introduced to REACH Beyond Domestic Violence in my senior year of college. I applied and was hired as the Community Engagement Intern. At the time, I wanted to be an advocate until I asked my supervisor why she had started doing prevention work. She told me that she wanted to work her colleagues “out-of-a-job” so we could live in a place that didn’t need domestic violence resources to exist because everyone would lead with a healthy relationship framework. From then, I knew I wanted to join her mission and make a change we all deserve to see.

2. What does a typical day look like for you at your organization?

My workday looks different depending on the day! One thing I am consistent about is checking in with my colleagues. Human service jobs are hard, and it is essential to take time to support each other. My job consists of relationship-building, developing, and facilitating trainings. I could talk all day about trauma-informed care, anti-oppression framework, supporting survivors, and violence prevention. Some days, my day involves going into police departments, high schools, colleges, or community spaces to have conversations around these topics; other days, I could be attending one-to-one relationship-building meetings, roundtable, and committee meetings, preparing for trainings, or developing new projects.

3. What is your favorite professional memory?

This is a tricky question! My favorite part of my job is watching transformations and seeing growth. One of my favorite memories is the first large-scale event I planned, REACH’s Fall Festival. Along with a Fall Festival intern and a group of dedicated community members, we planned an event to help bring awareness to and educate the community for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The goal was to bring together community resources and invite community members to attend and learn about the amazing services available. I am happy to say we achieved that goal by having over 300 community members attend and over 30 service providers! Watching the joy of the kiddos running around, getting their face painted and eating ice cream while the adults and teens were engaging with community resources they didn’t know existed, gave me a feeling you don’t feel every day. It truly could not have been done without the support of the planning committee members, colleagues, community members, donors, and the willingness of other service providers to collaborate.

4. This question is from our January TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Laura Hembree: What techniques do you use to handle a difficult case and in what ways have your techniques been successful when practicing them?

Throughout college and as an intern, I had to re-learn a behavior that came naturally to me: being a fixer. I have always felt like if someone was disclosing something to me, I had to do something about it, if they wanted it. Through doing this work and learning from the passionate people around me, I learned the importance of meeting people where they are. While this may seem simple, it was a huge challenge at first. Many people in this field experience frustration when a client or community member does something that may not seem to be the safest option. Something we say a lot at REACH is that survivors are the experts of their own lives, and I like to remind myself of that. The people we work with know themselves and their situations better than I ever will. It is important for me to remind myself that my role is like a bridge, helping guide folks to the outcome that they want, not what I think is the safest option. By reminding myself of trauma-informed practices and giving myself space to learn from a place of curiosity, I have been able to ground myself when in challenging situations.

5. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?

Sustainability is crucial to human service workers. What does sustainability look like to you, and how do you stay grounded in your work?

Thank you so much to Sydney and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.

Back to All Blog Posts