Rebecca O’Malley at Knoxville’s Biscuit Festival
Take a peek at Rebecca O’Malley’s insightful look at her career with Youth Villages – her challenges and successes, love for Knoxville, and fun fact guaranteed to entertain on any car trip!
Meet Rebecca O’Malley, Clinical Supervisor with the Knoxville, TN Intercept program. Before becoming supervisor, Rebecca worked as a Family Intervention Specialist within Intercept and as a Clinical Assessor for the families the Intercept program serves. In college, she interned with Youth Villages’ Jackson, TN office, working with the Intercept, Transitional Living, and Foster Care programs.
What is your educational background?
I graduated from Union University with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a Bachelor’s in English Literature.
What did you do before coming to Youth Villages?
Before coming to Youth Villages, I was very active as a college student in my community. I served with local relief organizations, the Salvation Army, and within my church, working predominantly with children and families in poverty. In addition, I completed my internship with Youth Villages (see above).
What do you love about your city? What do you do for fun?
Knoxville is full of culture and excitement, while not being so massive that I feel I’m lost within a crowd. There are always festivals, and every first Friday of the month, artists congregate downtown and display their works to the public. While Knoxville is known for its football, the University of Tennessee is not the only excitement it has going for it. My husband and I love living so close to the Smokies that we can take a day trip to hike up the mountains. Market Square is my favorite place to shop on a Saturday morning, perusing the Farmer’s Market and walking down Gay Street. And at night, the Square becomes a venue for live music, great food, and seasonal outdoor fare. Ijams Nature Center is another one of my favorites in the Spring and Summer. There are beautiful woody trails that take you to old caves, pass over the river, and even lead to a giant quarry where you can rent kayaks and canoes and make a day of it.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
When I’m not lazy, I love to run and hike. I am a voracious reader when I make the time to do so, especially when it comes to Harry Potter. I love baking treats for my loved ones and firmly believe that chocolate can cure almost any ailment or calamity. I generally just love to be around people after work, if that means making dinner with friends or binge-watching Netflix on the couch.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I am a relational person by nature, so I love making connections with people in the field. I’ve discovered that my best moments in this job occur when I can reflect someone else’s importance to them. Whether that be a despondent parent that needs to recognize the value of the role they play in their kid’s life, a child that has been told that they are a failure beyond repair, a co-worker disparaged by the toll of the job, or a key player whose input is essential for the success of a case, I have the opportunity to let those individuals know that what they do every day is important. Many times, we meet families who are in the darkest seasons of their lives, and we have the honor of coming alongside them in those lowest points to bring interventions and support. It is an honor to be a part of a person’s life when they are ready to make changes and progress. Our mission is to help children and families live successfully, and while that looks different in every home, that starts with sharing stories and building bridges across the brokenness these families have experienced.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I could name very few jobs that are more challenging than serving children and families who have experienced trauma, poverty, and the pain of having their families ripped apart. But within the job, the most challenging part for me is learning how to walk away from a situation, acknowledging that I have done everything possible and still accept the outcomes in spite of that. While I know that if I dwell on an outcome that was not ideal, I cannot best serve the other families and counselors on my load, it can still be very challenging to walk away confide
ntly when a child is removed or a family does not follow recommendations and feel that I have exhibited best practice.
What is one fun fact about you?
I entertain myself on car trips and in waiting rooms by counting up all the numbers I see on signs, books, and license plates and cast out nines. Casting out nines is the dumbest way to check if your math answers are correct, but the skill has not left me since I learned it in the fifth grade. Don’t ever learn it; it’s useless but will follow you everywhere.