When I applied to do my Bachelor of Social Work 4th year practicum at Catholic Family Service I was just looking to get my hours completed and signed off on. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the role I’m in, the staff, the services we provide and the agency as a whole. My experience here has been truly unique and has left me with so much knowledge and experience that I will carry with me throughout my career.

Throughout my education I have had the opportunity to do practicums at two other agencies in Calgary. While I learned a lot from all of my practicum experiences, I can say that my experience at Catholic Family Service was drastically different.

I have never felt so respected as a student, an individual and a co-worker, as I do at CFS. I have had the amazing experience of doing my practicum in the Engagement and Intake team of the counselling department. My two supervisors Shannon and Zeljka have respected my needs as a learner but have also treated me as a valuable member of the team and have encouraged my feedback and opinions. They have also challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and experience more than just the work we do in the Engagement and Intake office.

Due to the support and encouragement from my supervisors I was able to meet with different supervisors and staff and learn about the different programs/ departments at CFS. I was able to learn about the amazing and unique community programs that we run, the MBSRi group we offer and was able to learn more about the UP Foundation and the significant role it plays.

At CFS you can feel the agencies core values at the basis of anything and everything they do. What has stood out to me most is that every single staff at CFS is not only willing to go above and beyond to serve clients but desires to do so. No staff here seems to ever feel that a client or particular situation is a burden, they are truly happy to help and support clients in whatever capacity they can.

The mission of Catholic Family Service is to build strong families and this is evident in every aspect of the agency. CFS truly practices what it preaches. The CFS family is one of the strongest families I know and being a strong family itself means that they have the capacity to build strong families for their clients. It all starts from within. If any agency doesn’t have strong core values or a clear mission then how can it truly do what it has set out to do? CFS goes above and beyond to build strong families; with the definition of families being ever inclusive and judgment-free.

My practicum experience at CFS was very unique and I will forever be grateful for my experiences and learnings here. I feel more ready now than ever to enter the workforce as a Registered Social Worker and CFS is largely to thank for this.

By Shae Owen – Engagement and Intake Practicum Student