Listen to Your Heart When She's Calling
Self-Description - Integrity
Her Inner Light - My higher self that’s always been there and always will be.
Her message to women everywhere - “Love yourself. Everything comes from the perspective we have of ourselves."
Two things have always been true for Elizabeth Ross: her love of music and a calling to help underserved populations. Throughout her life, she has sung and played guitar, including once with Patti Smith in concert on stage. After graduating with a degree in sociology from college, Elizabeth followed her calling to a group home working with mentally disabled children. But after only a year and half, she left this work. The disabilities didn’t bother Elizabeth, but she feared the violence. During the two decades that followed, she worked different jobs, but all the while, she felt her heart tugging her back to social work.
Heeding her inner voice, Elizabeth found her way back. Through a serious search that took Elizabeth three years, she found her way to Family Service Agency of San Francisco (FSASF), the oldest, nonsectarian, charitable social-services provider in San Francisco. FSASF focuses on the needs of low-income families, children, the elderly and disabled people. More than 70% of the clients served by FSASF have annual incomes below the poverty level. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable among us.
Elizabeth works directly with people between the ages of seventeen and sixty who have severe mental health issues, most of whom also have substance abuse concurrent issues. Despite suffering so much trauma, they are incredibly intelligent and aware. They have, as Elizabeth puts it, "amazing bullshit detectors.” When they come to Elizabeth for help, they show up fully and expect no less from her. So much of her work requires her ability to connect with people. "If we can’t connect, there’s no trust. Then I can’t understand what’s going on in there.” Elizabeth brings her authentic self, openness and humbleness to each interaction. The work of witnessing so much pain is hard. The stories that upset Elizabeth most are those that involve children and animals. But Elizabeth loves the human connection she forges. Elizabeth says that finding her way back to her path of helping people through social work has changed her life. “It’s who I am. I’m doing what I love. The more I do what I love, the more I become who I am. The more fully I become, the more capacity I have to help others and the more the world in turn opens up to me.” And so it goes this flourishing cycle.
For Elizabeth the best gifts come in the form of those who believe in her. "When people get me, they help me believe in myself.” How fitting for Elizabeth who has been called a Beacon of Light, who gives of herself to the world in this way exactly. With compassion and respect Elizabeth shows up everyday for her clients, those overlooked among us, so that they can begin once again to believe in themselves.