Made You Smile Back's December 2018 'Recognized Baby Boomer of the Month' is proud to announce and present this award to Elaine Platz, LPC & NCC from Springfield, Missouri. She was nominated by last month's award winner, Mernell T King who is an avid admirer of Elaine's achievements and is inspired of her being a champion of the needs and rights of children.
I had the privilege of interviewing Elaine and was both impressed by her humbleness and her incredible journey surviving childhood poverty to achieving a life that a select few can even come close to rise to. If you want to be inspired, this is a story of a woman you must read and share with your own children and friends! I guarantee you will be moved by tears and you won't be disappointed. Congratulations Elaine Platz!
QUESTION 1: Elaine, tell me a little bit about your family and upbringing that you wish to share that helped mold you in the person you are today.
From A Life of Poverty, Elaine Endured
"I was raised in rural Missouri in a significantly financially and emotionally impoverished family situation with 14 children in an old schoolhouse building and two shack type rooms. When I graduated from high school in 1975, there was no indoor plumbing at the house and the only availability to take a shower was to use the PE locker room showers at school. It was 1975, but the living situation resembled the way people lived during the Great Depression. We were provided shoes and clothing by the grace of our neighbors and community people, aunts and uncles. Otherwise we would not have had any signficant clothes or shoes to wear.
A community neighbor, Rollie Schaffer, served as Santa Claus to make sure we received Christmas presents. Mr. and Mrs. Harry Glaughn of Shelby County Missouri allowed me to live with them for a short period of time in high school and this experience showed me what life could actually be like. When the local neighbors attempted to intervene in my family situation they were rebuked. As a result, I immediately learned from an early age, no one was going to rescue me, so I had to learn how to survive a horrendous childhood and to thrive as an adult. This is the touchstone memory and eventual road map for my life and my work with future clients."
QUESTION 2: Elaine, what are some of the personal struggles and/or challenges you have had to overcome in your journey?
If it is to be... It Is Up To Me!
"I happened upon the statement 'If it is to Be, It is up to Me' by William H Johnsen. That message, along with the positive role models of my older brothers and sisters, whom had escaped the same impoverished situation and were college students at Northeast Missouri State University (Truman University) was my guiding light. The Upward Bound program had provided us an avenue to get a college education and to escape our abject poverty.
As a result of lacking proper medical and dental care treatment, when I graduated from high school, I required extensive dental work. I ended up having to worked at the local Florsheim Shoe Factory spraying shoes for three years to pay for the dental care. I stumbled around in the dark attempting to find my identity during these three years.
During this time, I made multiple poor personal judgement choices as I was trying to find my way with limited guidance. A challenge from my older brother propelled me to make necessary life choice changes, so I joined the National Guard to provide the needed financial resources to assist me to attend college.
During my college years, I worked full time as a nurse’s aide and a hotel maid, attended college full time and completed my National Guard obligations. I graduated with an undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.68 and a Master’s degree G.P.A. of 3.86. Once I commit to do something, nothing is going to deter me from putting forth my best efforts.
I hopefully raised my son by my example of hard work, diligence and don’t-quit determination. My son went to work at age 16 and worked the same retail job during high school and college. My son has achieved his Masters in Strategic Studies and Covert Operations and he is a successful military contractor in D.C. He is married to the love of his life, whom is an Art teacher and whom is completing her Master’s Degree."
QUESTION 3: Elaine, please tell me your educational back-ground and any certificate programs you have completed.
M.A. Counseling and Guidance. B.S. Criminal Justice and Psychology. Multiple certifications in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and TF-CBT (Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavior Therapy).
National Certified Counselor.
Licensed Professional Counselor with multiple certifcations.
QUESTION 4: What are you the most proud of when looking back on your life and career?
The Love of My Life - My Son
"My greatest achievement is the love for my son when I had no role model for how to love and nurture a child. I did what I had to do to make sure I changed the trajectory of my very humble beginnings to provide a quality life for him.
My professional life was spent providing services for persons with disabilities and mental health issues to overcome their obstacles to achieve their best possible life. Two of my most memorable Vocational Rehabilitation clients’ that I use as an example of sheer determination to achieve their best life includes a trash truck hauler whom I worked with whom and supported/case managed to become a Mining Engineer. This client used to call me and identify his self as a trash truck hauler and I was thrilled when he identified his self as a Mining Engineer. He was the President of his Mining Engineer class at Missouri S&T.
Another client was a young mother whom had lost her way and she was working as a dancer and she didn’t believe me when I initially told her she had the aptitude to become an RN. Today, She is currently an RN working with persons with addiction issues."
QUESTION 5: Elaine, what are some of the highlights or 'landmarks' of your career
Counselor of the Year
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation - Counselor of the Year in 1988.
- Completed 19 years as a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.
- 3 Years at Department of Mental Health as a Case Manager and a Behavior Resources Specialist.
- Developed 2 outpatient mental health treatment programs to provide mental health services for the chronically mentally ill clients to prevent the frequency of inpatient hospitalization and to reduce their medications as their mental health improved.
- Sheltered Workshop Manager for 2 Years.
QUESTION 6: Tell me a little about your personal life (if you wish). Are you married, have children, etc.?
I have one son and lovely daughter-in-law and a beloved rescue shelter dog- Autumn. I am fortunate to continue my friendships of 47 years from South Shelby High School, previous colleagues whom remain friends in addition to new friendships. I have been happily divorced for 20 years.
I do water aerobics with weights for 4 - 5 days per week for approximately 7 hours per week, currently taking country line dance class, attend Contra dances, active member of the Meet Up social group and I country line dance very dorkily. In my little spare time, I continue with continuing education and completing additional professional certifications.
My travel goal is to travel outside of country minimally 1 time per year. I have visited London and Ireland and my next adventure is Italy in 2019 and Spain in 2020."
QUESTION 7: Are you involved in any community programs, etc.?
"My community involvement is the provision of no cost individual and family therapy when the client has no insurance or financial means to pay for therapy services. One of my favorite fees was green beans from their garden and a loaf of banana bread as the client was insistent on paying me for my therapy services. Medicaid authorizes for 40 weekly therapy sessions annually, so I provide 10 weeks of therapy sessions per client at no cost to them. This keeps me busy six days per week, as I serve the client’s in their foster homes in 5 counties in Southwest Missouri."
QUESTION 8: Last but not least, Elaine, what is the best advice you would give to our 'millennials' and of course, to us 'baby boomers'?
Do All The Good You Can... and
"My best advice is to know yourself and never move off your integrity square even when it costs you to not to go along with the group. Be a life long learner and adventure seeker whenever possible. Everything you give away comes back three-fold in your life. "
In closing I challenge each of you:
Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
AS LONG AS YOU EVER CAN!
Author - Evelene Elaine Platz, LLC & NCC
Copywrited - 2018
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