Celebrate Social Work Month

Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work.

The theme for Social Work Month 2020 is Social Workers: Generations Strong.

The theme has various meanings. As we enter a new decade it is important to look back and honor the powerful, positive impact the social work profession has had on our society for generations.

We also want to spotlight the life-affirming work that social workers from all generations — from the Greatest Generation to Generation Z — are doing. And since NASW is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2020, Social Work Month is a great opportunity to remind social workers of the important work NASW has been doing for decades and the need to join.

Samantha Fletcher, Executive Director of NASW-NYS Chapter

I love this year’s Social Work Month theme of Generations. My dissertation research focused on the work of older adults, who committed their lives to social change. In that vein, I value the work of our social work pioneers and the people who made our profession what it is today. We are truly standing on the backs of powerful leaders such as Jane Addams, Mary Richmond, Whitney Young, Dorothy Height, Dr. George Edmund Haynes, Bertha Reynolds, and many more.

Emily Anderson, MSW Student

I am a macro social work student at the University of Michigan focusing in social policy and evaluation with a minor in community organization. My current field placement is at Detroit City Council with Councilmember Castañeda-López. I chose social policy and evaluation because I am passionate about social welfare policy and working to dismantle systemic and structural barriers.

Natalie Winicov

My grandmother was a social worker, and she modeled values that were well-aligned with the NASW code of ethics. Very early on, she conveyed the message that each human deserves to be treated with kindness and dignity, and made it clear that we, as social workers, have a commitment to not only our clients, but to our communities.

Interview of Mary McCarthy by Sharon Kollar

What is your favorite part of the profession?

The diversity. The education and training to be a social worker is about listening and hearing and taking what you hear and using it to communicate more effectively, to build relationships, and to support people’s dreams. And you can do anything with that. It’s a great talent for so many kinds of work that it’s just a matter of finding the right place to put that energy. To find the right team of people to be engaged in that work with. But it could be anything. It’s more about the setting and the other partners than it is about the nature of the work itself because the skills are so useful in every part of one’s life.

Silas W. Kelly, LMSW

There were many people through the years who had a significant impact on my Social Work career. Many of them were Social Workers. The earliest impact was by a Social Worker who rescued me from a horrible, torturous existence. Then it was my dear, late foster mother who loved me unconditionally when I needed it most. My Foster dad who instilled the work ethic in me and taught me how a father and family man should be. The youngest of my older brother’s Paul, who I got reunited with. Mr. Dalton Murcheson, the Social Worker who had the biggest impact on my life and how I try to be as a Social Worker.

Lois Logan, LCSW-R

On rare occasions it is possible to make changes in others lives. However the challenges are at times overwhelming by the lack of resources and the overwhelming work.

One of the greatest impact my generation had on the profession is fighting for and getting licensure for the profession. This was a long hard fight that involved many. This meant fighting for the respect and acknowledgement of the important and needed work we provide.

Vanessa Young, LCSW-R

The biggest impact on my social work career has resulted from team participation. In my MSW program (1978 – 1980), students were organized into tutorial groups, and I am still in contact with members of my group in the UK and Australia. From 1982 – 1986, I worked in a 6-person team in Brighton, England, providing forensic services to probationers, parolees and prisoners in Sussex and SE England.

Steven Baranowski

Turbulent multiple foster care and adoption placements were made a little easier by my first social worker Jean Coulombe, shown here during one of our extended field trips to explore Wayne County circa 1978. Even though she has passed after a 30-year career, I continue to remember her calm, caring and attentive spirit, which I am honored to now share with others during my 19 years in the foster care and adoption field.

Stephen Rabeno, LCSW-R, Ph.D.

On his journey as a social worker, he had the opportunity to apply his skills to work in various fields including schools, substance abuse agencies, health clinics, private practices, and corporate consulting. Throughout his career, he has also grown to appreciate the harmony between his personal belief system and the values emphasized in social work.

Mary Alexander, LBSW and Meredith Alexander Lewis, PhD, LICSW

Mary's generation influenced social work by seeing the profession moved to licensed social workers by establishing licensure levels. With over 35 years in social work, Mary worked in group home setting, maternity, public health, and with the elderly. In a short 15 year career, Meredith seen the social work field expand from traditional settings such as hospital and child welfare to the school systems, police stations, legal teams and just about any place that human services are provided.

Martha Schultz, LCSW

Throughout my childhood, I was aware that a lot of my thoughts, questions and perspectives were very different than the kids around me. At times, I would question authority, and even get myself into trouble. When things seemed unfair, I would say something. When kids were treated poorly by other kids, I did something. I had the knowledge from my parents that things in this world were not fair, and the confidence from them to stand up for, and with, others.