Immigrant human service providers working within their own communities, the impact on their lives

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Zehr, Deb
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This study explores the impact of being a human service provider on the personal lives of immigrant workers who serve members of their own community. A review of the literature indicates that limited research exists which is directly focussed on the lives of immigrant service providers and the implications of providing services to their own ethnic community members. Using a qualitative research approach, individual interviews were conducted with immigrant human service providers. Interviews focused on workers' lives at work, in the home and in the community. Analysis of the data shows that these human service providers experience pressures related to being a public figure in the community. All face conflicting, high and unrealistic expectations and struggle with being involved with clientele in areas which go over and above that required by their job description. The study participants are required to deal with a job that crosses into family and social life. Adjustments made to ways of working are evident and are outlined in the findings. The ideas emerging from this study led the researcher to an entirely different body of literature which outlines issues consistent with the findings on the lives of faith group leaders. Issues for supervisors of immigrant service providers are discussed. Recommendations emerging from the study include the need to recognize the issues faced by immigrant human service providers working with their own communities and challenges to supervisors. Further exploration of literature related to the lives of faith group leaders, particularly writings regarding training and support of workers, may prove useful.