Social Work Month
Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society.
This year, Social Work Month is being commemorated with a “Social Workers Stand Up!” campaign. This campaign will educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give social workers and their allies tools they can use to elevate the profession.
To celebrate Social Work Month at LFCS, we want to recognize a few of our own. We asked them to share their perspectives of what it means to be a social worker. Here is why they said…
I LOVE being a Social Worker because…
- The amazing clients I get to work with – I love their perseverance to achieve goals, even when their circumstances make it difficult. I love that they keep me on my toes, so I can continue to grow and learn with each opportunity.
- My colleagues – Social workers are really awesome people. Some of the smartest and most caring people I know are fellow social workers. I am constantly learning from them and their experiences.
- The acceptance – I love being a part of such an accepting community of professionals. The knowledge I have gained about human diversity and genuine kindness has truly made me a better human being.
Sumer M., Life Skills Facilitator at LFCS
I decided to become a Social Worker in my 20’s. I was undecided between going to graduate school for Social Work or for Psychology. I interviewed several people in each field who I knew enjoyed their work. And I decided then that Social Work was the best fit for me, both then and for my future work. My undergraduate work was in Cultural Anthropology (I loved learning about cultures and diversity). But the study and practice of Social Work led me to a highly satisfying career. Being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker enabled me to provide therapy, develop programs and provide supervision and management within a variety of different practice settings. The practice of Social Work provides us with a solid grounding in theory, but also a deep appreciation for individual strengths, differences and family systems. Looking back on my career to date, I feel confident that I made the right choice when I first made that initial decision about graduate school.
Deb R., Director of Counseling at LFCS
“The profession of social work is grossly misrepresented and poorly portrayed in mainstream media. It is not surprising that most people are completely clueless. Though most days I still feel pretty clueless myself, here is my attempt to put into words what being a social worker means to me.
It means having an honest dialogue with people. It means talking openly about trauma, addiction, suicide, homicide, rape, abuse, homelessness, mental illness, poverty, sexual deviance, criminal activity, racism, sexism, aging, illness, abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, euthanasia, finances, issues related to military combat, and gender identity—among other topics. It means discussing these matters in the complete absence of judgment.
It means early mornings, late nights, and hours spent sitting next to someone who mostly cannot stand you in an emergency room, a food bank, or at the Department of Human Services. It means finding a bed bug crawling on your pants, having your car tire slashed in a dangerous neighborhood, and finding a needle in an unconscious person’s arm. It means watching two years of sobriety get washed down with cheap vodka or go up in smoke.
It means going to sleep on a cold night thinking about the people not lucky enough to have found shelter in time. It means waking up to learn about the man that died of hypothermia while you slept peacefully in a warm bed. It means someone jumped in front of a train, or hung himself in a forest, or shot himself in a parking lot.
It means no longer finding it strange when people talk to themselves, or talk to people you cannot see, or style their hair in front of a mirror that does not exist with an invisible curling iron. It means that a woman prostituting herself will think you are competition and chase you out of an apartment complex.
It means that you will spend your day surrounded by the profound suffering, deep sorrow, and unbearable pain of others. It means acknowledging that many problems have absolutely no solution. It means accepting that not all people want, nor need, the help of a social worker.
It means accompanying a human that you never would have met had you chosen a different profession on their powerful life journey. It means building meaningful connection with resilient and fascinating individuals. It means the precious opportunity to learn from people very different than you. It means experiencing the struggle with someone who so generously trusts you. It means sitting quietly next to someone in a moment of hardship and realizing that you do not need words to feel someone’s intense gratitude for your presence.
It means watching someone unlock the front door of her new apartment after twenty years on the streets. It means being present for someone’s first step toward recovery. And all the missteps along the way. It means being lucky enough to show up for someone in need when no one else would. It means being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
It means learning to treasure success, however small. It means constantly seeking to uncover the inherent strengths of others. It means triumph and transformation. It means always keeping the faith and never giving up hope.
It means asking yourself, “who am I not to change the world?” It means believing that you can, and do, make a difference every single day.
Social work means getting to fully experience the vast richness and the strange, exquisite beauty found in the rawest parts of our human condition.”
Megan A., Program Lead Coordinator at LFCS
Article is an excerpt from What is Really Means to be a Social Worker