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Coworker Corner: Linda Hendrickson
For 20 years, Program Manager Linda Hendrickson has been an integral part of Seton Home. Serving girls ages 11-14, she has helped change the lives of countless young women.
Linda started at Mercy Home right out of college, where she studied psychology.
“I was fresh out of school and looking for a job and was friends with someone who was a day coordinator at the time in Couderc Home,” she explained. “So she’s like, hey, you should try Mercy Home, they always seem to be hiring people. So I applied here and was hired on as a youth care worker back in 1999.”
Linda moved up the ranks in Seton Home, becoming the day coordinator after about two years as a youth care worker. After some time in that position, she decided she wanted to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree in community counseling. Balancing school and her responsibilities was tricky, but she made it work.
“I would work during the day, go to school, and then come back and finish up [at Mercy Home] at night,” she said. “It was kind of crazy.”
As she completed her degree, a job as a supervisor in Seton Home opened up, and Linda was hired into that position. A bit after that, the program manager position opened and Linda moved into that role, where she’s been ever since.
“I have been lucky enough in my career here to have opportunities open up kind of when I was looking into pursuing a different position,” she said.
Her many different roles in Seton Home have also given her a unique insight that helps her perform her job better.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to stay in this age group and I think it gives me a lot of perspective on the positions and the challenges of each one in this home because I’ve been there, in the trenches as a youth care worker, I’ve been able to know what it’s like to be a day coordinator and then to supervise on different levels as well,” she said
As the program manager, Linda oversees the daily operations of Seton Home, making sure that the needs of both our kids and their families are being met, supporting coworkers so that they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and making sure that everything is getting done in general.
“Just making sure that things are done, that deadlines are being met, that everyone is being held accountable to our Agency expectations and standards on a daily basis while providing great care to our kids,” she explained.
And while you may assume that after 20 years working with the same age group it might get old for her, you would be mistaken.
“There’s never a dull moment with the younger ones,” she said. “They keep you on your toes at all times and you know, I have to say after 20 years, there’s always something new, they bring me new things I’ve never heard of before, you know nowadays, all the dances and new sayings, I’m always learning something new.”
Surviving the middle school years is a challenge for anyone, but for the kids at Mercy Home who have experienced trauma, there can be extra challenges.
“You deal with the normal, who am I, what do I want to be, what kind of person am I trying to be, and throwing trauma on top of that just creates a whole lotta challenge, but it’s really great when you see it click for them,” Linda explained.
“It’s fun, it’s fun to watch the growth and kind of see the pains of being in the early teenage years and how most of us hated [those] years and just kind of helping them learn they’ll get through it is, I think, really rewarding for me.”
There’s never a dull moment with the younger ones. They keep you on your toes at all times and you know, I have to say after 20 years, there’s always something new, they bring me new things I’ve never heard of before.
– Linda Hendrickson
And though working with kids can be a challenge for anyone, Linda said that she’s been able to deal with any stress by maintaining a good work/life balance, though it’s always a work in progress.
“I think having my own family after here for a while kind of shifted my perspective as well as where my priorities sometimes needed to lie, but it can be hard because you want to be here and you know that there’s kids here that need you as well,” she said. “But you have to trust your coworkers and the systems and processes you have in place so that even when you’re not here, things are getting done and good care is being provided. I think finding work/life balance is really important to keep you from burning out. And having great people around you kind of makes it easy. When you like coming to work, when you like the people you work with, it makes it enjoyable and easy to do.”
The camaraderie that Linda has found amongst the coworkers at the girls campus is one of the parts she specifically enjoys about her job, she said. Those who have been around for a long time often enjoy reminiscing about old times and past youth.
She also enjoys supporting Mercy Home’s mission, which she called “solid.”
“We’re deeply rooted and that’s really fantastic,” she said. “We know what we want to do and know we want to help kids and we set out every day to do the best we can to do that.”
We know what we want to do and know we want to help kids and we set out every day to do the best we can to do that.
– Linda Hendrickson
But Linda’s favorite part is seeing the growth of the kids who come to Mercy Home, particularly educationally.
“A lot of them come to us pretty far behind or pretty defeated in their school performance and seeing them succeed and seeing them excited about grades is really awesome,” she said.
And when it’s time for the young women in her care to go back home, that’s another special moment.
“With the youngest population, that’s our goal, for them to be able to return home and when you see all those things finally clicking in the home and with them and they’ve worked on their issues together and now they’re ready for that next chapter, it’s really awesome.”