March is National Social Workers Month, a time to highlight the important work of social workers in our community. This year’s theme, “Social Workers. Leaders. Advocates. Champions.” speaks to the various roles social workers play in bringing people together to help society solve some of society’s most pressing problems. Samantha Schween, one of 17 professional social workers who work at Family & Children’s Service (FCS), reflects on how this year’s theme applies to her work with the most vulnerable.
This year’s National Social Work theme, “Social Workers. Leaders. Advocates. Champions.” could not be more fitting. Social workers, including my social worker colleagues, have served for generations as leaders, advocates and champions, helping individuals overcome challenges so they can live up to their full potential. They also work tirelessly every day to improve our communities and society.
As a social worker with FCS’ Jersey Assistance for Community Caregivers program, or JACC, I am tasked with connecting eligible Monmouth County residents with a wide range of programs and services that may be available to them in their quest to remain living at home. I have a diverse caseload of older adults who depend on me to help them. To every client, I play a different role. To some I am the leader that guides them through the obstacles life poses. Whether their problem relates to aging, losing a loved one or making choices related to healthcare, my clients trust I will lead them in a direction where they are safe, comforted and have the best outcome. To others, my role as a social worker is as an advocate. Every day I interact with people who have pressure from providers or family asking them to make decisions regarding their care. My role is to be by their side and help them advocate for outcomes they want. My favorite part of my job is helping my clients understand they do not lose their voice as they get older. They are in charge of how they live their life. While others do not understand that, I am given the opportunity to advocate and ensure decisions are not made for my clients, but with them.
I’m sure my social worker colleagues would agree; our clients make us feel like champions! While the little things we do for people on a daily basis may not amount to much in our own eyes, our clients view us with grandeur. When I hear the words, “you do not know how much I appreciate this,” I feel like a champion. I know that taking a few minutes of my time to help someone means the world to them. Granted, every day is not easy and the job comes with challenges, but at the end of the day I get to go home knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life.
Social workers are needed more now than ever as we continue to grapple with the critical issues of our day, a rapidly aging population, an Opioid addiction crisis and the need for quality, affordable health care. During Social Work Month, I urge you to learn more about the social work profession and how you can help members of this great profession continue to address these issues, and make our communities a better place for all to live.