Emmberle Thomas, December 2016

UAB Intern Emmberle Thomas: "You Are Going to be Loved!"

Emmberle Thomas, CJFS of Birmingham CARES Volunteer

If you visited CJFS CARES in the past few months, you probably saw the smiling face of UAB student Emmberle Thomas, whose internship with the agency was a requirement for her recently completed Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work. In fact, the end of Emmberle’s internship would have been a bittersweet event – except that Emmberle loves CARES so much she plans to continue volunteering after graduation, as she pursues a career and a master’s degree in social work.

“Working at CARES is wonderful. You never know what you’re going to get when you walk in, but you know you’re going to be loved” Emmberle said of the program which offers respite care to families affected by memory and movement disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Emmberle learned to deal with the varied personalities of CARES participants – and according to CARES Volunteer Coordinator Lise Grace, she was a natural from day one.

“From leading activities and taking responsibility for some of our more compromised participants to filling water pitchers and setting tables, there was no task at CARES too big or too small. And all of this was done with a smile,” Lise said. “It’s great to know that even though Emmberle’s internship is over, we haven’t said goodbye to her.”

Emmberle also spent time each week at Episcopal Place, helping residents of the subsidized senior housing community learn to use their hand-held devices. “One lady wanted to use Facebook to find her family, and it turned out to be very meaningful,,” Emmberle recalled. “She was able to find her cousins and reconnect with her family.”

CJFS regularly provides internships for social work students pursuing Master’s degrees – but Emmberle was the agency’s first undergraduate intern. Catherine Findley, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at CJFS, was Emmberle’s supervisor.  In addition to working with clients, Emmberle also helped CJFS social workers with research and paperwork, such as helping one client order prescription drugs online and helping another apply for subsidized senior housing, Catherine said. 

“When I introduced Emmberle, I told our clients that the student is here to help you but also to learn from you. They really enjoyed that role of being a teacher to a student, and if offered a sense of purpose to our clients.” In a similar way, Catherine said, Emmberle’s presence benefited the clinical staff. “A student brings a fresh perspective and ‘newer’ knowledge,” Catherine said. “They gain experience and knowledge from us but they educate us as well.”

CJFS is here to help you or a loved one maintain independence and enhance quality of life. Contact CJFS Clinical Director Robin McMilin, LCSW, at 205.879.3438 to schedule a consultation with one of our Licensed Clinical Social Workers.


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