Anthony Meeks has a message for his fellow union members. To win the support of the public, public workers need to treat those they serve with respect.
“When someone approaches you, they shouldn’t feel like they are bothering you,” says Meeks. “I try to make every person I serve feel important by treating them with the utmost respect. Can I do this all the time? Of course not,” says Meeks. “But I do my best to make it happen most of the time.”
The Streetworkers Program, which is part of the City of Boston’s youth services division, conducts youth outreach activities throughout the city and through home visits. The 24 hour a day program connects staff like Meeks with young people in crisis or who are in need of services. The program reaches over 2,000 high-risk youth.
Meeks says that many of the people who come to him are “broken, hurt and discouraged.” Which makes it even more essential that public service workers respond to them with kindness. “In my eyes, dealing with the public requires sensitivity, respect and kindness. You have to be able to show that you care about the person, even if they come to you in anger,” says Meeks. “Whatever they bring, I try not to take it personally.”
Meeks says that he hopes all Local 888 members who work with the public will take a hard look at how they interact with those they serve. “Am I serving the person that I interact with in a kind-hearted, open-minded way?”