When Margaret Johnson interviewed with Lutheran Social Services of New York at age 24, she was told the field had a high turnover and was asked how long she could guarantee her services, should she be offered the position. Margaret replied, “I’m not going to lie to you. The most I can promise you is one year.” The supervisor thanked her for her honesty and said they were still interviewing and would be in touch. A few days later, Margaret was called back in for a second interview and was offered the job. She signed a piece of paper guaranteeing she would remain in LSSNY’s employ for a year.
Over three decades later, Margaret remains with our agency! Initially a childcare worker in one of our group homes — Kingsbridge Two in the Bronx — Margaret was offered the Unit Manager/Supervisor position several years later. She was put in charge of a 24-hour facility for 10 young women aged 12–21 who were court-appointed and assigned group homes by the Administration for Children’s Services. She made it her mission to create an environment that felt like “one big family.” Nine years later, Margaret was transferred to the Sunset Park house in Brooklyn, where she ensured that all safety regulations were met so the children could live there. She remained at the house for five years.
Margaret has always had a love for children. “If I had had children,” she says, “it would have been crazy. I don’t work 9 to 5. I don’t even remember the last time I worked 9 to 5. As a unit manager, you are considered the mother. I would always have a bag in my car in case. I always had my overnight bag available. Sometimes we had kids getting sick just as I was getting ready to leave. I’d have to take the child to the hospital or cover for a staff member.”
Now the Director of Support Services at LSSNY, Margaret supports the Director of Young Adult Life and Family Team Conference Facilitator in addition to maintaining the role she has held as our Education Coordinator for Children’s Services since 2000.
“I’ve been at LSSNY for 34 years,” she says. “I can’t believe it.” When I interviewed in 1986, I said I could only guarantee a year, and after that, I didn’t know where I was going to go. And look at me now! I guess this is where I was supposed to be.”