Interview with Rhea Kumar, Albany MSW Intern
Here at SALT we focus on more than just physical rebuilding post disaster. Emotional support and case management is part of how we’re creating a stronger more sustainable Schoharie County. This year we are lucky to have Rhea Kumar interning with our case manager Jeff Palmer. Read more about Rhea below and for more information on case management call 518-702-5054.
Where do you go to school and what is your position at SALT?
I am enrolled in the graduate program at SUNY Albany working towards obtaining my Masters in Social Work. Currently I am an intern here at SALT and I am mainly working on providing counseling to different individuals in the community. I also assist clients alongside Jeff [Palmer] to act as a mediator between clients and external organizations in an attempt to receive financial assistance, loans, grants to rebuild destroyed homes.
Why did you choose SALT for your internship location?
I decided to apply to SALT for my internship because I am extremely interested in working with victims of natural disasters after I complete my program. I have a strong interest to pursue a career in the area of disaster recovery and prevention and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to distinguish if this is a suitable career path for me.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of case management?
There are several things I love about case management. The initial meeting with my clients is sometimes awkward or uncomfortable but I honestly love the process of getting to know each client. Each individual has a different way of connecting with people so it is almost like a puzzle trying to figure out what makes the client tick or want to communicate with you. The major reward is when both my client and myself can sit with each other and have a very honest and real conversation. They feel comfortable enough talking to me about their concerns and issues, and do not feel restricted when they speak with me because of our differences. Once this rapport is established it is even more rewarding to see each client make process and for them to recognize that they are in a better place than when we started. To know that I helped facilitate each of those individual steps is really what keeps me motivated in this field and is the prime reason I love care management and counseling so much.
How do you think your time at SALT will contribute to your future career?
Like I said previously, I think SALT will give me the experience I am craving with working with victims of natural disaster. I am lucky because I get to witness a clinical and more personal side of the effects of a disaster with each client, while also witnessing how government policies can act as both a burden and an asset to the community. The storms had different effects on each person in the community, and being here really allows me to see the vast array of these effects between differing groups in the community. On the other hand, the same goes for state and federal policies that were created to assist with home rebuilding. Sometimes the new policies and grants created act as a blessing for homeowners, while to others it causes more financial tension.