When my aunties Vicky, Gerry and Anne got together, they chattered nonstop. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their banter until I was maybe 12 or 13. That’s when I really started listening. They shared stories about kids struggling in school, interventions they did, and conversations with the kids’ grandparents or guardians they were planning to have. I didn’t know what that meant. Before I really started listening, I also thought my aunties were Atlanta school teachers.
No, my mom said. They were guidance counselors and social workers. I had never heard that term before. Mom explained that social workers look at the entire picture of the child and try to address and remove obstacles or barriers that get in the way of a student having the best education possible. I was fascinated, and my admiration for Vicky, Gerry and Anne grew even more. This was not easy work, I quickly learned.
National Social Work Month
March is National Social Work Month, which has caused me to think about my aunties and the thousands of people in our city and at CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions who have dedicated their lives to social work. Most will tell you being a social worker is not a job, it’s a calling.
Social workers are unsung heroes. They carry a significant toll with them day in and day out as they care for vulnerable and often frail people. Their “clients” or “patients” often become extended family to them. At the end of their workday, it’s nearly impossible not to think about those who are nearing the end of their lives, those who are transitioning to another housing situation, those who struggle to make ends meet, who have experienced unthinkable traumas, and the list goes on.
Social workers change lives.
Social work traces back to Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Star, who opened Hull House in Chicago in 1889 to provide services to the area, which had a large immigrant population. Other social work pioneers include Ida B. Wells, an anti-lynching advocate and women’s rights activist, and George Edmund Haynes, who co-founded the National Urban League.
As we celebrate social workers this month, I’ll be giving thanks to those who seemingly move mountains to make sure the most vulnerable members of our community are living their best lives possible.
Social Worker’s Prayer
I’ll be saying and posting the Social Worker’s Prayer, which goes like this:
Give to my heart, Lord, compassion and understanding.
Give to my hands skills and tenderness.
Give to my ears the ability to listen.
Give to my lips words of comfort.
Give to me, Lord, strength for the selfless service.
And enable me to give hope to those I am called to serve.
Give gratitude for social workers
If you want to do something for these important servant leaders, there are many ways you can give back. For example, giving to CICOA helps offset the cost of continuing education that social workers are required to take, and it enables them to provide basic needs for the vulnerable clients they serve. Or, if you are part of an organization that offers services, you could offer sessions to social workers to help relieve some of the stress and emotional burden they face every day.
At the very least, you could say a simple “thank you” to the servant workers you know, whether it’s a coworker, a friend or a dear auntie.
YOUR GIFT TRANSFORMS LIVES
Give thanks to social workers
As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.