Leadership Spotlight: Lori Matthews
Prior to her position as one of our amazing social work supervisors, Lori Matthews worked for many years in the field of mental health. Her work ethic and passion for helping others has been an inspiration to those around her, making her an obvious choice for this month’s Leadership Spotlight piece. Read on to learn more about her advice to those interested in a similar career path, how she came to work with EA Family Services, and more!
Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you came to work with EA Family Services?
I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania and went to high school and college back east. In college I was initially studying marine science, but switched to psychology about three years in. In particular I was fascinated by the human condition and learning why we do the things we do. I always knew I wanted a job that would allow me to give back in a bigger way, so after graduating from college I moved to Evanston, Wyoming with my family and began working in the mental health field. I worked with severely, persistently mentally ill (SPMI) individuals who were stepped down from the Wyoming State Hospital, and as therapeutic staff support, using behavioral modifications with clients in their home, school, and community. After my husband and I became foster parents while living in Wyoming, I decided I wanted to be a social worker. I applied to be a social worker with the state of Wyoming, but I was still a foster parent and didn’t get the job. After we’d lived in Wyoming for about five years, my husband received a promotion and we relocated to Manteca. Within only about a week of living here, I saw an ad for a social work position with EA Family Services, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was fate. I interviewed with Tina and Deally and got the job; it was meant to be.
Where there any experiences in your early life that contributed to your success with EA Family Services?
There were some traumatic events that occurred when I was a child, and although I’ve worked through them as an adult it left me with the desire to help others. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s and I was working alongside a social worker as a foster parent that I knew what my calling was. The combination of having experienced childhood trauma and having been a foster parent has given me empathy and compassion for not only our clients, but our foster parents as well.
What advice would you give to someone interested in working with youth in foster care?
Have an open heart, an open mind, and determination. Be willing to toss those starfish back into the ocean. You may not be able to save each one, but to the one you save, your love, support, and dedication matter. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters that can create many ripples.” So, cast the stone and create the ripples.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
I love spending time with my family and friends. Most of my coworkers know that I’m an avid Pokemon Go player (yes, it’s still a thing). We have an amazing group of PoGo friends in Manteca. I also love going to the beach, Hawaii, the casino, having a glass of wine, and traveling to visit my in-laws in Carson City. We also love to give back to our community. We love volunteering with our church, St. Anthony’s of Padua in Manteca, and at events with EA. I like to make volunteering a family affair because I believe that when we give back to others, we fulfill our life’s purpose.
What’s a hidden talent you have, or something about you that would surprise most people?
I’m passionate about writing. I love to capture a moment in the written word and put the feelings that surround that moment down on paper. My goal is to be a published author one day. I have an ISBN number for a book I want to publish, but I haven’t finished it yet. I also have about three books started, but I haven’t had the time to complete them.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love how much EA feels like my family. I’ve grown so much in my time with this agency, and I’m grateful to every person who has contributed to my personal and professional growth. Also, love you, Mom!