Social Work in the Public Eye (June 2011)

Jacquie SteingoldThe News-Herald in Southgate, Mich., reported that Jacquie Steingold was honored as Woman of the Year by the Wyandotte-Downriver branch of the American Association of University Women.

Steingold, a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, teaches at WSU and Wayne County Community College. She has spent decades working for social justice issues including civil and women’s rights.

She is the regional director of the Great Lakes Region of the National Organization for Women and has served as the organization’s president of the Detroit Chapter.

Gloria Conn of AAUW told the newspaper that Steingold “is a strong advocate for women and has been active in NOW for years.”

Steingold worked at the Interim House, one of the first domestic violence shelters in Michigan, and is a founding member of the Child Care Coordinating Council of Detroit/Wayne County Inc. She has served on its board for 12 years. Additionally, Steingold has served on the Michigan Women’s Forum and was the executive director of the YWCA from 1989-93.

Margot EscottMargot Escott was profiled in the Naples Daily News in Florida about the importance of offering a support system for people who take care of loved ones.

The newspaper reported that Escott and her husband took care of her father when he was suffering from the effects of Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

“If I didn’t have the skills of a social worker, I couldn’t have done that, and I think the average person doesn’t have all those skills,” she was quoted saying.

After her father’s death, Escott came to lead the free Naples-based Peer Counseling Program, which is offered by the Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida. “It offers a place for unpaid caregivers to pull themselves out of this role for an hour a week and touch base with a volunteer counselor in person or over the phone,” the article stated. “The counselors can’t provide respite, but they can help a caregiver find a local organization that does.”

The program assists participants with the guardianship process and other concerns typically associated with caregivers. It is also provides a place to vent frustrations and exchange experiences.

Escott said the greatest need for caregivers is emotional support. “Caregivers are trapped in the home,” she said. “They can’t get out because of their loved ones.”

Escott said accepting help is a key to getting better, but she said for many it is difficult to do. She acknowledged that she and her husband didn’t reach out for counseling while taking care of her father.

“Looking back, I can see how much a peer counselor could have helped me with the myriad of feelings I went through, and perhaps give me advice on how to handle situations as his dementia worsened,” she said.

The University of Southern California News website reported that former NASW President Suzanne Dworak-Peck (no photo) received the George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Professional Services by a Social Worker. NASW President James Kelly presented the award.

“Suzanne is a social worker’s social worker,” Kelly said. “She is always level-headed. She always looks for the big picture and she always does the right thing.” The story reported that Dworak-Peck is the founder of the association’s Communications Network Inc., which provides the media and entertainment industry with centralized information for social issues.

In other news, Mary McCarthy, a member of the NASW Board of Directors, received the Excellence in Professional Service Award in social welfare at the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award ceremony for 2009-2010. NASW President-Elect Jeane Anastas was named a recipient of the 2010-2011 New York University Distinguished Teaching Award, honoring her dedication to her students, the effectiveness of her pedagogy and mentoring, and the high integration of her scholarly work with her teaching. And Ken Carpenter and Jessie Smith recently received the redesigned Alumni Medal from the Columbia Alumni Association for distinguished service to the university.

Clifton UckermanThe Salt Lake Tribune highlighted the inspiring story of social worker Clifton Uckerman, who was named a top 10 finalist in the 2011 Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame, a distinction recognizing people who’ve had a positive effect on their community with boundless enthusiasm.

Uckerman began a job as the new program manager for Cancer Wellness House after receiving an MSW, the article reported.

“Clif’s energy is contagious and it’s something all of us at Cancer Wellness House want to catch,” Terri Goldstein, executive director for the organization, was quoted as saying. “CWH is about living life well and to the fullest and Clif’s spirit and energy illustrates that perfectly.”

Uckerman explained that he came from a “wounded family” in Salt Lake City. He told the newspaper that he ended up in a gang and experimented with drugs as a teen. His brother died of a combination of diabetes and a drug overdose and his father was shot and killed by a stranger, the article reported.

“My story is not unique,” Uckerman told the newspaper. “But I’m one of the few who has been able to give back to the community.”

He said his life changed when he got involved with mentors and local programs. Eventually, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Utah and has helped raise more than $1 million for substance abuse prevention, college scholarships and other programs, the story said.

“He’s also been an avid volunteer and community organizer, speaking out for higher education for disenfranchised youths, and HIV/AIDs prevention,” the newspaper reported.

Uckerman received $1,000 for making it to the top 10 of the Energizer contest. If he wins the top award, he will receive a $10,000 cash prize and an additional $5,000 donation to his charity of choice, the Cancer Wellness House.