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Pauline Rice


woman standing and smiling in front of art work“I love what I do,” Pauline Rice says, emphatically, when asked about her 30 years of work in protective services. “I have no interest in retiring.”

After college, Rice began her career as a Social Services Worker in the County’s Children and Family Services Department, working on child protection cases. Later, she moved to the Adoption Department, where she assisted families through the adoption process.

She jumped at the opportunity to try a role at MetroHealth’s Miracle Village, where she helped addiction - recovering parents by teaching them life and parenting skills. “That work was tough,” she explained. “At times I would see people I knew coming into the program, and it was hard not to take the work home with me.”

When that work became a little too much for Rice, she moved to Adult Protective Services. “The work is so gratifying,” she explains. “I enjoy ensuring clients have the quality of life they deserve. I start by learning about their background, their history. You have to know them to serve them.”

Over the years, Rice has had countless clients. “My kids tell me I can’t go anywhere without bumping into a former client,” she says. “I am proud to see their growth and development. And they are excited to tell me about their lives and how well they are doing.” She says she even has clients that come up to her while she is out having dinner with her husband. ‘You do you’ he will say, as he gets up and allows them to have a moment of private conversation. “I think if you treat people good, they will treat you good.”

Rice has always been caring for others – foster parent, adoptive parent, caregiver for aging parents – she’s done it all. “Everything is a learning experience. Caring for my husband’s great grandmother was a wonderful opportunity for both myself and my children. They got the chance to share time with her, singing, playing guitar and having fun.”

When asked about the keys to her success, Rice says patience plays a big role. “I try not to be overbearing. I try to be a good listener and help clients take small steps towards getting their lives to where they want them to be. I ask, ‘What do you want to see changed? Who are you close with that can help you get there?’.”

Rice’s advice for those interested in social work is to have patience. “Learn that nothing comes overnight,” she cautions. “And add humor – getting clients to relax and trust you helps them build the confidence they need to take steps towards doing what is right.”