After 44 years, “a nice man named Bob” calls it a day

November 2021 · Ministry News

After four decades in one of the toughest professions going, Robert “Bob” Brunner insists it’s his colleagues and the kids who have kept him positive.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of this system where you can help make a little one’s day a bit better, especially when they’re dealing with one of the worst days you can imagine – suffering from the trauma of being separated from their parents.”

In a field often fraught with heartbreak and sad stories, Bob says people who do this work learn to take their rewards in small chunks. The struggles are many, but the rewards make all the difference. And it can occur anywhere, anytime.

“I once got called at nine o’clock at night because four children had come into care, and they were being split up. I would transport the three little girls, while their brother headed to a separate placement. When the six-year-old girl realized that her brother – who had been her caretaker – wasn’t going with them, she started crying very hard and could not be consoled. After finally getting them into car, I began talking about my grandkids. Gradually, she calmed down and started listening. Then, I told her a story about Jack and the Beanstalk and how he had been so brave. I ended by telling her that she would have to be brave, that she would be okay.

Then she asked if she could tell a story – first time I’d ever had that. She told me a story about a policeman coming to her door and putting handcuffs on her mother and how afraid she was. She said she had to go to the police department and sit in a room for a long time and then got picked up and taken to the SRS office, where they sat for a long time. She said she was so scared, but a nice man named – Bob – said he would take care of her, and that she would be alright.”

That man had to pull over to the side of the road to wipe away the tears.

And that’s how a career in child welfare changes lives. Bob changed that child’s life, and that child changed Bob’s.

Ever humble, he adds, “If we can make a difference, even a small difference, in a child’s life, then I think that’s what this job is all about – making a difference and showing forth love.”