Plant a Seed, Water a Seed, and Hope it Grows


In nearly 38 years at Youth Service, Inc., Bernice Andrews has never seen her job as a regular 9:00 to 5:00. As funding sources and the programs offered by YSI have shifted over the years, Bernice and her colleagues have always maintained their guiding mission: supporting children and families so that they can remain intact in their communities. “Children want to be with their families,” says Bernice. “And we want to strengthen families so that they can keep their children. If children are safe, their parents will do the best job of raising them.”

After four decades as a social worker, during which she has touched the lives of countless children and families, Bernice retains a vital optimism and a realism borne of experience. “You can plant a seed, water a seed, and hope it grows,” she notes. “But you rarely know what the end product is going to be.” While working to achieve the measurable outcomes required by funders, it is the experiences, relationships, and memories that have left their mark most deeply on Bernice.

Despite the tremendous difficulties experienced by struggling families – burdens often felt vicariously by case workers and supervisors – Bernice remembers most vividly the celebrations: picnics in the park, cookouts at Sunnycrest, splash parties on the lawn at Crittenton, and all the special programs that brought parents and their children together to relax, connect, and build stronger bonds.

Bernice’s compassion for clients and her colleagues has been renewed time and time again by the little things. Gifts of flowers and cards and favorite dishes shared – the antidotes to trying time spent on the road and in the community, teaching, listening, and advocating, hoping her efforts will allow her clients to flourish. “It’s nurturing and nourishing,” says Bernice. “I believe in counseling and catering, that talking and food go hand in hand.”

Bernice is currently preparing for a very active retirement, in which she will continue to work part-time for YSI while facilitating classes for care providers on dealing with traumatized clients and spending more time in her home garden. Of course, it only makes sense that after a career of nurturing and nourishing, in retirement Bernice will continue to plant, water, cultivate, and grow.