WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE
True, social work is focused most of the time on helping others. But that sounds too simplistic. Those in this field know that it goes beyond that; it is a road fueled by passion to uplift and reach out to communities affected by social disadvantages, abuse, poverty, or disability.
Being in this field for 18 years, Lauri B. Ogumoro knows this work all too well. She is currently the executive director of Karidat Social Services and has been at the helm of this organization since 2015. Before that, she was the manager of Guma’ Esperansa which is the shelter for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking since September 2002.
Social work is a courageous and, according to Ogumoro, a never-ending struggle for finding a balance between one’s work and personal life. “One has to learn as a social worker to leave work at work. …We see and hear some of the worst things that can happen in a person’s life and this is the kind of job that can be 24-hours-a day. …I have witnessed victims become survivors and have walked with them through some of the darkest days of their lives…,” she said.
“I hold on to the fact that the work we do every day can transform people’s lives. …Celebrating their transformation motivates me every single day to get up and come to work and my experience every day is a reminder why I became a social worker…,” she added.
In response to the needs of the community for services that Karidat offers, Ogumorro stays on top of the daily operations of the agency “…especially writing grants to bring in funding for our programs…[and] most especially our food pantry due to the high demand during these tough economic times and managing those grant programs to ensure we are in compliance with grant requirements,” she said.
“Future plans also include getting the Karidat Thrift Shop up and running… and at the same time meeting the ever-changing needs of the community,” she added.
Aside from Karidat, Ogumorro sits as chairperson of the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. board of trustees. She was nominated and confirmed to serve as a member of the CHCC board in 2017 and was also elected chairperson that same year.
“I worked at the Commonwealth Health Center as a social worker for almost 20 years. Perhaps they thought this would give me some insight to the workings of healthcare systems,” she said.
As a CHCC trustee, Ogumoro is aware that she has a fiduciary duty to balance the needs of the corporation and the CNMI community, as well as provide the checks and balances to the CHCC chief executive officer. “It is a big challenge especially without the financial resources we truly need,” she said.
Just like the work that she does at Karidat, Ogumorro is also involved in looking for funding resources for the only hospital on the islands. “We work hard to find money to support the needs of CHC and continue to work toward the improvement in the quality of healthcare at CHC. …We are trying to do our best within the confines of the resources we have and sometimes we have to be creative…,”she said.
That has resulted in Ogumoro reducing her involvement in other organizations and letting the younger generations take over. “I want to stay true to my mission as a social worker. …I need to concentrate on the needs of Karidat, CHCC, and most importantly, my family.”