March 22, 2016

Homeless to Hopeful

In recent years, several St. Kate's Master of Social Work students have done their field work at YouthLink, a drop in center for homeless youth. Pictured here: Susan Matzke MSW ’14, Jeanette Olsen MSW’16, Lisa Borneman MSW’92 and GJeni Stark MSW’14. Photo by Sharon Rolenc

This year’s theme for March Social Work Month is “Forging Solutions out of Challenges.” Students and faculty in the joint St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas School of Social Work strive to create solutions especially for victims of human trafficking as they spend this academic year exploring that theme. Lisa Borneman MSW’92 is one example.

Borneman, an alumna of the Master of Social Work Program, is currently a doctoral student and adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work. She is also a clinical services supervisor at YouthLink, an organization committed to helping homeless youth better their lives and build life skills that will help them stay off the streets and out of harm’s way. Poverty and homelessness are two contributing factors that make youth more susceptible to become victims of human trafficking.

In her role, Borneman assists in building relationships between the professional staff and youth who are seeking help. She makes sure the relationship is built on trust, and that the staff do not get too far ahead of the youth they are working with or steer them in directions their not ready to take. “[Young people] need to be their own leader” she says. The agency, she notes, is there to guide them along their journey.

Anastasia Kramlinger, an intervention case manager at YouthLink who works with Borneman, believes that “creating trust is paramount while building a relationship over time.” By keeping their word, she adds, the youth will understand that these really are people dedicated to helping them get on their feet. “We do what we say we do,” Kramlinger adds.

Even though she has only taught one class so far at St. Kate’s, Borneman encourages her students and everyone around her to remind themselves that they only know their own story. She says no one knows the full story of another person, so they should go into every situation as a learner. Borneman strives to find solutions in the everyday challenges at work, and encourages her peers and students to do so as well.

Learn more about social work at St. Catherine University.

By Lauren Crepeau ’17