Social Work in the Public Eye (July 2014)

Daniel BallNASW student member Daniel Ball was one of the success stories mentioned at North Carolina Central University’s graduation ceremony in May.

According to an article on The News&Observer, the school had its largest graduating class ever, and Chancellor Debra Saunders-White singled out Ball, who received his bachelor’s degree in social work. Ball grew up in foster care in coastal North Carolina, the article says, and he battled substance abuse and depression. He was in prison as a young adult and when he was released, he headed straight to community college. He now plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill for his master’s of social work.

“I became a social worker due to my desire to empower individuals and groups who have been or who are at risk of being subjected to the negative consequences of social problems,” Ball said.

The third annual Donald L. Hollowell lecture was the kick-start to the University of Georgia School of Social Work’s 50th anniversary celebration, according to an article in Red and Black, which serves the UGA community in Athens, Ga.

Maurice DanielsNASW member Maurice Daniels is dean and professor at the School of Social Work at UGA, and he said Hollowell, who was a civil rights attorney in Georgia, helped transform the South.

“We come to celebrate the phenomenal achievements of Hollowell,” Daniels says in the article.

“Hollowell was the embodiment of courage and tenacity. His activism literally helped to change the course of history. He helped transform the South. He made real the promises of democracy.”

Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, also delivered a speech on civil rights at the anniversary celebration.

According to the UGA site, Hollowell was the lead counsel in Holmes v. Danner, the landmark case that allowed admission for Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, the first African-American students to enroll at the university in 1961.

Anna ScheyettAn op-ed written by NASW member Anna Scheyett in South Carolina’s The State says military members deserve our support and a “thank you for your service.” But as a social worker, she writes, gratitude is not enough.

“Our responsibility doesn’t end at reintegration; we must think about long-term needs,” she says, “from healing battle wounds to tending the emotional needs of children growing up in a home where a parent was deployed multiple times.”

Scheyett, dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work, says she’s proud South Carolina has a reputation for supporting its military members and veterans.

“From veteran job fairs to National Guard service member and family care services, Yellow Ribbon events, veteran treatment courts and churches with veteran ministries, our communities are working to make South Carolina a welcoming and supportive place for military and their families,” she writes.

Scheyett also mentions the Military Social Work Initiative at the University of South Carolina College of Social Work, which was developed to help address the needs of service men and women, veterans and their families.

“We are engaging in research to better understand the challenges faced by military families, with a goal of developing interventions to help with recovery, rehabilitation and resilience,” she says. “In addition, we have developed a graduate certificate in social work services for military members, veterans and their families. Finally, we have begun a continuing-education series for helping professionals in the community, so that anyone — be it a teacher, a nurse, a community social worker, a doctor or a guidance counselor — can better provide support.”

Scheyett points out that military members who need help may hesitate to reach out for it, as they are trained to be disciplined, stoic and independent. They may view their emotional struggles as signs of weakness, she says.

The recent tragedy at Fort Hood is an illustration of the stresses and emotional pain military members can experience, Scheyett writes, adding that the incident also highlights the need for accessible and effective mental health services for military members and veterans.

Adria NavarroKimberly SetterlundNASW members Adria Navarro (photo left) and Kimberly Setterlund (photo right) spearheaded a project in 2012 for graduate social work students at Azusa Pacific University in California.

According to an article on the APU website, students immersed themselves in the Azusa community, visiting schools, families, businesses and government officials to collect data for a comprehensive needs assessment that culminated the following fall.

“This needs assessment allowed our students to explore the complexities of community social problems firsthand,” Setterlund said. “They delved into how the city functions, learning about the community’s needs and practices, and connecting literature with skills.”

The project focused on three target populations in Azusa — children, families and older adults — and students uncovered the city’s challenges, identified trends and recognized several strengths that serve as community capital through semi-constructed interviews with key stakeholders and other data.

“APU enjoys an excellent relationship with the city of Azusa, and our students benefited from that connection,” Navarro says in the article. “The mayor visited the students in class and opened the door for them to work closely with city officials. As they delved deeper into the community life, interviewing residents and leaders, they gained a valuable perspective on macro practice in social work.”

The findings and recommendations have been distributed to the Azusa City Council, the mayor, and key stakeholders in the community, the article says. Navarro and Setterlund, who are social work faculty members at APU, also plan to share their findings at the Council on Social Work Education’s annual program meeting as an experiential education model.

The project continues to add educational value for APU students as they explore the data more deeply, the article says.

“This spring, students enrolled in Advanced Community Practice drilled down into the issues of bullying, homelessness, and older adult services, partnering with community service groups to address these needs,” Navarro said.

“We are always looking for ways to connect with our neighbors in Azusa and give our students practical experiences,” Setterlund added. “This project provided a great foundation for future collaborations that will potentially strengthen the city as well as the partnership between Azusa and APU.”

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