The Helping Profession

Former human services student Sarah Green earning MSW at St. Kate’s

When she first arrived at Inver Hills Community College, Sarah Green, 34, of St. Paul, Minnesota, wasn’t sure what field of study would be the best fit for her talents and disposition. All that changed on her first day in a course called Introduction to Human Services.
“This is it, I thought,” Sarah recalled. “This is my career. It was an ah-hah moment.”

Tom Reis and Cheryl Redinger
Tom Reis and Cheryl Redinger
A 2001 graduate of the Creative Arts Secondary School in St. Paul, Sarah had a troubled childhood growing up in a dysfunctional, unconventional family. That experience gave her the empathy, strength and wisdom to be a natural at social work. She found the power of that calling exemplified in Cheryl Redinger and Tom Reis, who serve as faculty in the Human Services department at Inver Hills.
“Cheryl and Tom are so passionate about the field and the work we do,” Sarah said. “That passion is contagious and has stayed with me throughout the years. You cannot be in the helping profession if you don’t have a passion for the work.”
In 2007, Sarah transferred to the College of St. Scholastica in St. Paul and earned her B.A. in Social Work. She is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work at St. Catherine University and is set to graduate in May 2017.
“The education I received from Inver Hills has completely changed and shaped my entire career path,” Sarah said. “Cheryl and Tom inspired me to continue my education and earn my MSW.”

What do you like best about the human services field?
Sarah Green
“I like the different types of people I meet. In human services, you work with people from many different backgrounds. I love working to understand people and how I can adapt to be most effective. Human services forces you to examine yourself in a way that can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding. For me, it was the start of mindful introspection and personal growth.” — Sarah Green

Tom Reis remembers Sarah as one of the most promising students he has taught in the Human Services program. “Sarah was a very intelligent, competent and motivated student,” Tom said. “There are very few students in our program who I encourage to go on and earn not only a bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s degree with the goal to become a therapist. Sarah has natural helping skills and abilities in this area—and I’m pleased she did indeed pursue that career path.
“Sarah was an excellent, straight A student in the classroom. I also like that she has a strong commitment to social justice. She won our first Human Services Student of the Year Award in 2007. I had no doubt that this field was a good fit for her.”
Tom added that Sarah volunteered for the college’s first Hurricane Katrina disaster relief trip to New Orleans—there have been 10 more since then, including a trip to New Orleans in May 2016. That first 12-day trip in May 2006 took 20 students and four faculty, Cheryl, Tom, Laurine Ford and Steve Baugh, to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
Both the Upper Ninth and Lower Ninth wards endured catastrophic flooding when levees failed along the Mississippi River–Gulf Outlet and Industrial canals. The Inver Hills disaster relief team worked with Common Ground Relief, a grassroots nonprofit headquartered in the Lower Ninth Ward. The team stayed at St. Mary of the Angels, an elementary school in the vicinity.

2006 Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Trip

(Photos courtesy of Sarah Green)
Tom noted that disaster relief trips require grueling physical labor in the intense heat and humidity of the Deep South. Many volunteers have difficulty keeping pace with the rigorous workload. “Not Sarah,” he said. “She hung right in there with me and was a hard, committed worker.”
Sarah looks back on the journey as hands-down the most memorable experience during her time at Inver Hills. “There was nothing more powerful and more relevant to human services than experiencing firsthand the trauma, devastation and beautiful resilience of the Upper and Lower 9th Wards—and New Orleans as a whole.”

To learn more about the trips, read “10th Annual Inver Hills Disaster Relief Trip” on Inver Hills News.

IHCC Katrina Disaster Relief Trip 2012

Sarah is currently working as a social work care coordinator with the Fairview Complex Care Mobile Clinic. She travels in a 100-mile radius from her office in Minneapolis visiting adults in their homes, helping them cope with chronic and complex health issues. Her career goal is doing social work in a hospice setting or in the area of death and dying.
“I would like to work with families and patients during the end-of-life process,” she said, adding that she and her husband are developing a children’s book about grief and losing family members. Both Sarah and her husband lost their fathers before their youngest daughter got to know them. The book would be about a young girl getting the chance to play with her two grandfathers.
Sarah considers her children—two girls ages 12 and 2 plus a boy age 8—her greatest accomplishment. “They are by far the best thing I have done with my life,” she said. “I am amazed every day at the amazing people they are turning into.
As for her greatest dream, earning her Master of Social Work holds the top spot. “That will be my biggest personal accomplishment,” she said. “Education has been a long, nontraditional road for me with a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I started at Inver Hills when my daughter was 8 months old and will graduate with my master’s when she is 13 years old. But it has been worth it. When I am done, I will be the first person in my family to have a graduate degree.”

Three words that describe you as a person:
Sarah-Green_1“I disliked this question so I asked my husband. He said: ‘Compassionate. Mischievous. Thoughtful. Funny.’ I know that’s four; we are working on counting. It’s part of the post-nuptual agreement.”

Sarah is happily married and resides in St. Paul with her husband and three children plus two dogs, a St. Bernard/retriever mix named Samuel L. Dogson and a “rat-dog terrier” called Bowie. She mentioned that her best friend Jennifer has been a rock in her life since they met in first grade.
“Jennifer has unconditionally loved and encouraged me,” Sarah said. “She has accomplished so much in her life and career and she inspires me to keep doing more to put good in the world.”
Sarah’s hobbies include reading, writing, going to the beach and listening to music. She loves watching classic films and sci-fi B movies from the 1950s and 60s. She also loves Halloween and waits for the holiday’s arrival every year.

Sarah Green | 21 Answers

  1. Favorite season: Summer
  2. Two-toed slothFavorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Gulf Coast
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Competitive eating
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Flamingo
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Remote tropical island
  6. Favorite holiday: Halloween
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Sloth
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Bette Davis
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Radiohead
  10. SprinklesYour personal motto if you had to have one: “Laugh more.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Sprinkles “They are the happiest thing in the world. Who doesn’t like sprinkles? They make everything better.”
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Lately, the news and social media
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: The Twilight Zone
  14. Favorite all-time movie: The Royal Tenenbaums
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: To publish a children’s book in honor of her dad and her husband’s dad
  16. Most precious material possession: Wedding ring. “I don’t wear it often (because of my job), but it means so much to me.”
  17. Rod SerlingFirst thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: “I would pay off my debt. That’s super practical, but I would end up blowing a bunch of it on movie memorabilia, too. If I had that much money, I would set up a nonprofit to help people with low income through the death/dying process. I think it’s a shame death and dying with dignity correlates so closely with socioeconomic status.”
  18. Dream occupation: “Social services is awesome, but can be exhausting. Sometimes I dream of silently stacking boxes in a back room somewhere.”
  19. Person you would most like to meet: “Alive: I’d love to meet Bernie Sanders or Pope Francis. Both have done so much to advance social justice issues and promote compassionate humanity. Dead: I always wished I could have met my husband’s father.”
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Parenting “This would be so much easier if I could figure out what I was doing.”
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Coming together for the greater good of humanity

For more information about Human Services at Inver Hills, including earning a Human Services Worker A.S. degree, contact:

Cheryl Redinger
Human Services Faculty
651-450-3306
Tom Reis
Human Services Faculty
651-450-3717

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