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Social Work Month

A not very widely known fact is that March is the month-long celebration of Social Work Month. Social Work Month is a time dedicated to recognizing the hard work, dedication, and accomplishments of social workers. It was first started by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in March of 1963 as a way to encourage public support for the profession. But it did not become an official celebration until 1984, thanks to an official proclamation from President Reagan which declared March as National Social Work Month.

This year, the theme for Social Work Month is “The Time is Right for Social Work.” This theme aligns with and emphasizes the growing need for social workers and their contributions as our country addresses issues like systemic racism, mass incarceration, housing and economic inequality, and our need for improved health care and mental health.

In the spirit of Social Work Month, let’s take the time to explore the field a bit more—especially since not everyone may be familiar with social workers and what they do.

According to the NASW, the main job of social workers is to “connect people with community resources that help them safely maintain their best quality of life.” They provide support to those in need by giving advice and directing them towards necessary and available resources.

If these responsibilities sound kind of broad, it’s because social workers act in this type of supportive role within a wide variety of different fields, so their day-to-day responsibilities can vary a lot depending on where and who they serve. However, their main goals and motivations remain the same: to help individuals, families, and communities overcome the barriers that keep them from living their best and happiest lives.

Social workers can specialize in serving a specific population or working in a particular setting. For example, some social workers focus on working with aging populations, people with disabilities, mental health issues, or those dealing with substance abuse, while others are centered in health care, school settings or prisons. In addition to these and other areas of work, social workers can also stay research-oriented or focus on policy and administration related to social work.

While Social Work month is observed all throughout the month of March, the official National Social Workers Appreciation Day is observed on the third Tuesday in March. This year, that lands on Tuesday, March 15th, so if you are someone who knows someone who does social work, I would invite you to take the time to thank them for the hard work they do. It can be anything as simple as a nice text or a thoughtful note.

For me, my personal experience and recognition for social workers runs deep. While I am not studying to be one, I have been in contact with a few of them in the past and am grateful to have received their help and counseling.

To celebrate Social Work Month, I also took the time to interview a couple of friends who are both current social work students from Fresno State, (and who are on their way to graduate this spring!) to learn a bit more about them, their motivations, and experiences in Social Work.

Nathashly Munoz

- What inspired you to study social work?

What inspired me to become a social worker is the young inner child in me, I wanna be the person I needed as a child. I have first hand experience of what it feels like to be helped by a social worker and the warmth of safety they bring to one's life.

- What area in social work do you want to work in? Why?

I would like to work in child welfare in a school setting or possibly CPS because I wanna help young children and give them hope of life and a great future.

- Is there a misconception you see people have about the field or the work you want to do?

I feel like when people hear “Social Worker” they think of CPS and of someone who “takes children away”. But in reality, a social worker's goal is to keep families together as much as possible and help create a safe environment

Guadalupe Corcoles

- What inspired you to study social work?

Growing up, I saw relatives deal with their mental illness, interactions with law enforcement, and I had my own experiences dealing with my mental health, along with a few other experiences. I learned that social workers can have a hand in assisting with all of these situations and it just seemed like the right fit.

- What area in social work do you want to work in? Why?

I used to want to work in the criminal justice system, specifically in the juvenile system. But now that I'm interning at an elementary school, I would also like to work in a school, although preferably from middle school up.

- What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?

I hope to accomplish being the presence that I would have wished there was when I was a kid and in school. Through my internship, I’m seeing first-hand how schools are now providing supportive resources on campus for kids. It is just amazing since sometimes school may be the only place kids feel safe or where they feel they have someone they can talk and confide in.

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