Social workers closed out the 27th annual National Professional Social Work Month in March with a flurry of activity to promote the profession, and NASW received a warm letter from President Barack Obama acknowledging the many contributions of social workers.
National organizations, including NASW, and members of Congress marked the occasion with the launch of the Congressional Social Work Caucus and reintroduction of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1106/S. 584, on March 15, World Social Work Day. Among other things, the act would create a federal-level commission to conduct a comprehensive review of workforce challenges facing the social work profession and make recommendations based on their findings.
In its popular Social Work Month outreach toolkit NASW emphasized the role of social media and encouraged social workers to tweet, text and post short messages and videos online to help the public appreciate the role of social workers in society.
“We were successful in increasing the level of individual participation to promote the profession,” said Ebony Jackson, NASW’s senior Web and social media specialist. She said social media gets the message out beyond the profession because information spreads virally.
Many of NASW’s twitter followers added the Social Work Month hashtag — #swmonth — to their own tweets, and hundreds of NASW’s Facebook fans changed their profile pictures to the Social Work Month logo for the month of March.
Several state and local governments recognized Social Work Month with proclamations and resolutions. Many state chapters held advocacy days, bringing social work professionals, faculty and students to state capitols to lobby on behalf of the profession. Hundreds of students participated in “Shout Out” events. Even more chapters — from Guam to Connecticut to Puerto Rico and beyond — mounted public education campaigns through print, TV, radio and online media. The Louisiana Chapter placed billboard advertisements on major roadways throughout the state to showcase the professional social worker.
The Arizona Chapter’s Branch 2 posthumously honored Gabe Zimmerman with its Social Worker of the Year award. Zimmerman, an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was killed along with five others in a Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson. Giffords, who was wounded, was awarded the branch’s Public Elected Official of the Year award.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed March 24 “Dorothy Irene Height Day” in honor of the social worker, civil rights icon and Virginia native who died last year.