My Other Life: Elisabeth Weber, social worker

Elisabeth Weber, nail technician. In her other life: social worker.

We often joke that nail techs act as therapists at times. Well Victoria, B.C., Canada-based nail tech Elisabeth Webster really does offer counseling in her role as a social worker for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, a non-profit agency that offers support to people whose mental health and addiction issues have led to them to being homeless and/or unable to function in society on their own.

As a tenant support worker, Webster helps to oversee eight apartment buildings for people on social assistance who require supervision and mental health support in order to function adequately in their daily lives. “We ensure clients take their medication, have a safe, clean place to live, and provide immediate access to counseling and support if a crisis occurs,” she says. “We also try to model positive life skills for our tenants, encourage them to make safer choices for themselves daily, and discourage the attentions of predatory individuals looking to exploit them.”

The most rewarding part of the job, she says, is seeing clients use the life skills and boundaries the staff tries to teach them every day. “For instance, seeing a client decide not to let a known drug dealer come into the building with them or to refuse to buy a piece of stolen property because they don’t want to get into trouble with the law are ways I see my work making a difference,” she says.

“The bottom line is that we do not rescue or enable anyone who wants to keep making poor decisions, but we will work to support them if they want to make positive changes in their lives. It’s always a challenge, but I try to concentrate not on moving the mountain, but rather on moving grains of sand; eventually the mountain will diminish and disappear — it just takes patience and time from a dedicated team of people working together.”

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