The Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year for 2015 is Greeta Soderholm, Intake Clinician for the residential treatment program. Greeta was awarded the title at the All Staff Retreat in October 2015, where she was joined by her family and celebrated for her dedication to Lund’s mission and her hard work helping women and children access the treatment and support that they need.
Assistant Director of Residential and Community Treatment, Brian Southworth, said, “Greeta blends her dedication to this agency, with her belief and support of clients in a way that is absolutely genuine, and models the best of both worlds. She is immensely well-liked, as well as respected by her colleagues for her strong clinical skills, her ability to very efficiently manage the admission process, and her consistent caring and supportive style with clients. A client gave this example of the impact that Greeta had in her interview, prior to admission: ‘Her face, her demeanor, and her presence made me feel so comfortable. Every experience I had gone through in the past week had been so anxiety provoking for me, and so draining; but not my encounter with her. I felt her warmth and empathy. She is so genuine and free of judgment.’
I feel very fortunate to be the supervisor for such an impressive individual, and this agency should be proud to have someone with the professional skills and personal qualities that Greeta brings to the agency, and who represents Lund so well in the professional community.”
Greeta took a break in her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her work at Lund:
What do you do at Lund?
I am in the intake clinician but I have multiple roles. I also teach group and do therapy, but most of my time is spent interviewing and assessing people who are looking at the program. The meat and bones of the work is to make sure that people meet the criteria for this level of care. I am look at all the different domains of life – their current situation, substance abuse, use, mental health history. I need to clearly understand if they have substance abuse or mental health issues that rise to the level of needing this sort of care. So that’s the crux of what I am doing but I feel it’s much more than that. It’s conversational. It’s having a conversation with someone about wanting to make a change. That’s the exciting part for me.
In between interviewing and our weekly referral meeting there are a ton of phone calls. I am reaching out to DCF, therapists, inpatient treatment so I can see those records. I can see their history. I come in with the information and I type up a quick synopsis to bring to the other members of the team. It’s a fun, lively, rich discussion where people have lots of questions. We try to make timely decisions. That’s the other key piece. I feel like I have interviewed people at a critical point in their lives and they are contemplating change now. They deserve an answer in a timely manner.
People are usually in a pretty bad situation when I meet them. They aren’t just signing up saying, “I really want to go live at Lund”. I don’t take it lightly that I am meeting someone at a really critical moment in their life. I meet them with gratitude – “You’re here. You walked through this door. That’s really hard.” The big piece for me is meeting people where they are at, not judging them and being grateful that they are willing to consider this place. Seeing people come in really anxious and then after their time seeing them move closer to picturing themselves at Lund. That’s awesome. I have never had a job that is as energizing as this. It’s different than social work. I have a social work background but this is very energizing. To see people that are trying to make change and people who are willing to be vulnerable and showing all facets of who they are. It’s not always very pretty.
How long have you worked at Lund?
It was 3 years on Jaunary 2nd. Though I was a volunteer at Lund during college. I was a helping hand, mainly in the daycare, which was down in Kim’s office. I remember taking women to doctor’s appointments, watching babies, I was all over the place. I remember back then loving it. I was 20 at the time. Many years later here I am.
What is your educational background?
I did my undergrad and graduate degrees at UVM in social work. I was psychology major and changed to business but I was one of those people who was born to be a social worker. I didn’t know social work existed until I was at UVM and someone was talking about their classes and what they were doing and I was like, “What is that, that you’re doing? And they said, ‘Oh that’s social work.’” I changed my major. Because back when I was a kid, I would read about homelessness and suicide. I had gravitated towards understanding complex stuff that people were struggling with. That was my leisure reading. When I started social work not only did my grades go up but I was a straight A student . I found exactly what I wanted to do and I have never felt different. Before Lund, I worked at Casey Family Services for 10 years. The biggest part of the work I enjoyed at Casey was working with birth moms. I didn’t really know that at the time, it didn’t make sense to me until I was here. But I’ve always loved that. When I was doing reunification work, if it was safe and if it was possible, I wanted reunification. And that’s so much of the work I do here too. It’s been a pretty perfect fit for me.
How do you feel about winning the Employee of the Year Award?
I don’t know what the right word for it is. It was a little shocking but it was very meaningful. If it captures anything, it captures that I really love what I do. I am really glad that that shows. I really really genuinely feel that I have found the sweet spot in life. I am working but it doesn’t feel like drudgery. How I feel on the inside is reflected on the outside and that’s really cool. The most meaningful for me was people’s words. When Brian spoke he was clearly reading some of the words of the individuals I have worked with, and that’s the most important thing to me. I see social work as walking side by side with people as they are trying to move their lives forward. People felt cared for by me, people felt nurtured, they didn’t feel judged and that’s what I value about this work.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I am an intense personality. Yesterday I ran nine miles up part of Mansfield with my friends. We started in one part of the state park and ran over to the other side. It was ice and snow. I think that anything I do tends to be with significant intensity. I ran the 25k Jay Peak Challenge this summer. I really like to push myself to a limit that really challenges my capacity to work any harder. I mountain bike, I snowboard, I do a ton of trail running. I travel a ton. When I get time off, we are usually traveling. I have a ritual where I take my older son on a solo trip. We went to Iceland, the Azores, Greece and Turkey. When my younger son is a bit older, we’ll have to alternate. I am inspired this crazy big world we live in. When I get time off we find cheap plane tickets and go somewhere. Enjoying exercise and the outdoors and traveling and trying to maintain my household, it’s pretty busy.
Congratulations to Greeta, the Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year for 2015.