Celebrating social work

As a social worker myself, I have come to recognize and respect this profession in so many ways. There is no other career more rewarding then helping others. Social workers assist individuals in overcoming troubling issues in a variety of settings utilizing different types of interventions. It truly takes special people to counsel others, advocate for change, and to diligently show empathy day in and day out, while being accountable to all the systems that play a role in client driven care.

The National Association of Social Workers has designated March as National Social Work Awareness Month as an opportunity for social workers across the country to raise awareness about the important contributions the profession makes to society. All People Matter, this year’s theme, was selected to highlight the field’s passion towards a better quality of life for everyone.

Historically our country engaged in lengthy debate over where the responsibility for public welfare lay: federal or state agencies, community organizations, or individual families themselves. Throughout this time various strategies regarding the public welfare emerged which led to the professionalization of social work.

In the late nineteenth century, jails and almshouses were in deplorable condition. Many individuals were mistreated or housed lacking heat, water, and food. The precursors to social workers-simply described as those helping others-became interested in the conditions that created social problems. One of the most noted is Jane Addams. Jan’s Settlement House achieved notability as she conducted research, developed juvenile justice systems, promoted legislation prohibiting child labor, and introduced public health and social insurances.

During the Great Depression, social Workers were involved in FDR’s New Deal, characterized by a belief that greater regulation would solve many of the country’s problems. This ultimately created the Social Security Act. ?

For over a century, social workers have helped people manage their daily lives, cope with issues, navigate relationships, and solve personal and family problems. Along the way they have worked diligently in advocating for some of the biggest changes in our history.

Many social workers feel they were “destined to be a social worker.” Helping others is simply their second nature. They have to make difficult decisions in what is often described as a “thankless job.” Yet they find no greater joy than in seeing people live healthy lifestyles, make wise choices, and overcome obstacles.

You or someone you know has probably been positively impacted by a social worker in a school, hospital, nursing home, hospice, or mental health and substance abuse service. It is truly life changing work throughout every sector of our community. In March-and for every month for that matter-please recognize those in the social work profession by thanking them for all that they do.

Michelle Williams, LCSW, is the executive director of Family Services of Warren County. “Like” its page on Facebook for great tips about happy and healthy living.