Here at Northwoods, we’re big believers that our past should always shape our future. This week, we’re sharing a little piece of Northwoods’ history—as told by our executive vice president and chief operating officer, Chris Carlson—to give you a glimpse into where we’ve been and where we’re heading. This is chapter 2 (here’s chapter 1 in case you missed it).
Rich—another guy with small-town roots from Lancaster, Ohio—was working down in Fairfield County. He had taken a job as a social worker, and was determined to give his very best.
That job was demanding ... not just for the stress of the core work trying to help at-risk kids, but also for the very manual and bureaucratic requirements of the job that happened behind the scenes.
Early on in his career, Rich encountered a young girl who he ultimately determined needed to be removed from a bad situation at home. Being the determined young social worker that he was, he vowed to get all the required paperwork done as quickly as possible so that he could fully support his decision to protect the girl … and protect himself and his agency in the process.
He took that girl back to his office and sat her down in his cubicle while he diligently set to the task of completing all the paperwork and reporting that were stressed to him to be so important to his job.
Through those long minutes, perhaps hours, the little girl sat quietly in his cubicle and tried to get her mind around what was happening.
Rich was so engrossed in his tasks that he barely noticed she had fallen asleep waiting. While she waited, she had put a piece of paper in her mouth at the corner. That paper had stayed there, but the corner dissolved leaving a perfect little bite out of it.
When Rich looked up from all the "important" work he was doing and saw this innocent and terrified little girl with that piece of paper sticking out of her mouth, something changed inside him.
He vowed never again to allow the manual requirements of his job to distract him from the reality that, sitting just across from him in his cubicle, in that house, in that police car or anywhere else, was a scared little kid wondering and trying to process what would happen next in his or her already too difficult life.
Rich continued his career with a renewed passion for helping those kids, saving those lives.
He moved up to be a manager, and then ultimately the director of his agency, realizing along the way that there were more kids he could help if he could lead others toward remembering the core reason for their work … helping those kids, saving those lives.