Lauren Neujahr doesn’t think what she does is particularly “extraordinary.”

“I just show up for life,” the Auburn resident said.

But others, like her friend Natalie Bogart, would disagree. The two met just over 12 years ago as a connection through the recovery community.

“And she just showed up for me in a way that, you know, no stranger really ever had before,” Bogart said.

Lauren Neujahr stands next to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway where she is a social worker. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Neujahr is celebrating 14 years in recovery this Christmas Eve. Every day she basks in the “gifts of recovery” — her husband, Brandon, their three daughters, her faith and community and her career. And it was through her recovery that Neujahr discovered her calling in social work.

“I think it was really, what am I going to do for the rest of my life? I was still early in my own personal recovery,” and she wasn’t sure in which fields her personal history would be accepted.


“How can I be useful to the world around me?” she asked.

But in social work she found that her personal experiences allowed her to approach her work with “wisdom” and the “darker moments” of her life had a purpose.

“And I love people,” she said. “And that was probably the stronger motivator, was just to care for people.”

Neujahr brings that generosity of spirit with her every time she walks into Stephens Memorial Hospital, where she is a social worker and provides patients and family members with support, connects people with resources and, most of all, makes sure they feel heard and seen.

“It’s heavy work and she just shows up in this bright light every day,” Bogart said. “And those aren’t always the type of people that, you know, get the recognition they deserve.”

Often, she sees patients or family members after they’ve received devastating news, such as a cancer diagnosis or death of a loved one.


“It’s holding space for those families and those patients,” Neujahr said. “And some of that is really hard. Like, especially when you’re working with families that have experienced what I would say probably is the ultimate loss, which is the loss of a child,” she said.

Those moments have been some of the most impactful of her career.

Or she may see a patient with a chronic illness, or a substance use disorder and works alongside an interdisciplinary group of providers to figure out the best discharge plan for them.

There are also celebratory moments, such as births. Neujahr usually sees families after a delivery, especially if it was a complicated delivery or there were other prenatal concerns. She particularly enjoys visits to mothers enrolled in an integrated medication-assisted treatment program for a substance use disorder, who will have a longer hospital stay to monitor their newborn for withdrawal symptoms.

“I really enjoy that part of my job because I, you know, I really believe in those, those moms and the potential for change,” Neujahr said.

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