Observing Social Work Month

Metro Washington, D.C., National Professional Social Work Month eventParticipants at the Metro Washington, D.C., National Professional Social Work Month event included, from left, Bernice Harper, Cassandra Henry, David Weaver and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Yarvis.

Social work was celebrated locally, nationally and around the world in March, also known as National Professional Social Work Month.

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., a social worker, introduced a resolution that unanimously passed in the House calling for special recognition of the people who “dedicate their time, energy and lives to assisting individuals, families and communities.”

The declaration honored “the more than 600,000 people in our country who help improve our society,” Shea-Porter said. U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., also joined in praising the workforce.

In celebration of the profession, NASW selected the theme, “Social Workers Inspire Community Action” and assisted chapters with advancing the message locally, providing such tools as proclamation templates and a media kit.

The month-long observation was also an excellent opportunity to recruit people to the profession. NASW took charge by redesigning its “Be a Social Worker” Web site. It connects those wondering about a social work career with resources and educational opportunities in their communities. [Site is now The Social Work Career Center]

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark said some members made “career day” presentations to junior high and senior high school students using materials from the association’s Web site.

“NASW chapters did a terrific job profiling members and social work organizations in the local media,” Clark said.

Keeping with the month’s theme, NASW asked members to submit nominations of shining examples of “community action heroes” — those who have inspired change in their community and beyond. Profiles of nominated members are featured on NASW’s Web site.

The list includes such people as Reeta Wolfsohn, who was nominated by Becky Reed. Wolfsohn’s profile states that she created the Financial Social Work discipline and the Center for Financial Social Work in Asheville, N.C. Its mission is to help people create sustainable, long-term financial behavioral change.

The International Federation of Social Workers asked social workers to think outside their homelands by acknowledging World Social Work Day on March 16. IFSW President David N. Jones posted a special message on YouTube for the occasion.

“It’s a hugely exciting time for social work in the world,” he said. “Social work makes such an important contribution. ... Those who do it do it because they feel strongly and passionately that it’s the right thing to be doing.”

Jones pointed out that excitement is building for the 2010 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development: The Agenda, which will take place in Hong Kong in June. Social work leaders and educators from around the world will gather to discuss the profession’s global direction for the next decade.

NASW also got creative by acknowledging World Social Work Day with a YouTube video. U.S. participants wrote messages that complete the sentence “Social work is ...”

Keeping in step with the international theme, NASW President James J. Kelly joined activities that surrounded the 27th annual Social Work Day at the United Nations in New York. The event brought students, practitioners and educators together to learn more about the world organization, innovative projects and issues important to International social work.

NASW along with its chapters in New Jersey, New York state and New York City were among the collaborating organizations that supported Social Work Day at the U.N. Activities included a conference called “Social Work and Social Welfare: A Commitment to Partnership with the United Nations.”

Former NASW President Gary Bailey, who chairs the Policy, Advocacy and Representation Commission of the IFSW, was one of the presenters.

The event was presented by the IFSW and the International Association of Schools of Social Work.