WOOSTER, Ohio — Rachel Workinger, an independent living case worker at the Wayne County Children's Services, is working hard to make a difference in the lives of children and young adults—and she was recently awarded for her efforts.
Named the Northeast Ohio Everyday Ohio Hero for the impact and change she is making in the lives of teens and young adults in the state, Workinger said the award is an honor, mostly because it reflects the achievements of the young people in her care.
"I specialize in teenagers who are going to prepare for what's next in their life, whether what's the next in high school, what's after high school and future planning for being an adult," Workinger said. "It is nice to be recognized. It's nice because that reflects my kids that I work with. That means they're achieving excellence."
Workinger said the ages she works with are so important because many are on the cusp of entering adulthood but haven't been taught the basics needed to succeed in life.
"Going to car dealerships and learning how to buy a car, doing things such as talking about how to plan a funeral. What does it take to specifically have a family and take care of children? And then even just down to how do you interview for a job? How do you apply for a job? So the the life skills that we teach are very broad topics, but get very specific," Workinger said.
One of Workinger's foster children, Trevor, is on his way to college to study political science, public policy and theater studies.
"I'm not your average foster kid because I don't have an average case worker," Trevor said. "I recognize that I'm here because of the support that Rachel has given me."
Trevor said thanks to Workinger, he's learned how to succeed in the world.
"I feel like every single step of my life has involved Rachel very heavily from what college deciding to go to buying a car, but also daily little things, like my self-confidence, like my value with myself learning daily life skills. I learned how to change a tire from these programs, which I know that seems like a common task, but I did not know how to at all and actually got a flat like a couple of months ago," Trevor said.
That's why the award isn't just special to Workinger, it's special to those she's helped along the way as well.
"I wouldn't be here without Rachel and know how to be a productive member and have all of this drive for everything. So I really thank her for her work," Trevor said.
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