Barbara Walsh: Office Specialist, Phoenix, OR

“I have been an Office Specialist for the Child Welfare office in Medford for five years. We have a very heavy caseload. A lot of families in our community are struggling. It can be really overwhelming at times. In my job, I support the caseworkers and it means a lot to me to be able to support the amazing work they do and contribute to helping the families.

My time with child welfare actually started as a volunteer. After the recession I, like many people, had to find a different kind of work. I met some people involved in child welfare and was so impressed with what they were doing I just started volunteering until I got a job. It sure pays less than the private sector, but I am in my 60s so job security and retirement benefits matter a lot to me.

I think people have a false idea about how much public employees make. I don’t make a whole lot. I am grateful for thrift stores and I count every penny. My salary isn’t such I can put much away for myself. I manage to stash about $100 a month.

I think I am about 10 years away from retirement. Financially I will have to work until I am about 77. If my PERS was to be cut even more than it is now, I think I’d just have to work until I died in my cubicle. I can’t picture how I would be able to retire.

I think it’s immoral that they want to reduce the retirement benefits of people like me. It’s immoral and, frankly, insulting. What we do is essential for our community. The private sector isn’t going to take care of these vulnerable children. We work so hard and we care so much. We aren’t in it for the money but we shouldn’t be forced into poverty when we retire because we went into public service.”

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