Oh, The Places We Can Go In The Name Of Social Change

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This post was written by guest columnist, Barbara DiGangi, a Licensed Master Social Worker and co-founder of Project Bond. You can follow her onTwitter @BarbaraDiGangi.


Why did I want to become a social worker? Because I couldn't stop asking "why not?"

I was constantly re-creating a mental manuscript that went something like this. 

All of these houses look exactly like they did when Katrina hit three years ago and haven't been rebuilt. Why not? WIC doesn't cover bread for our family. Why not? Miss Barbara, I just don't feel confident. Why not?

I believe that anyone who has entered the field of social work has done so with the purpose of actively addressing the questions we all have for ourselves, our loved ones, and our world. I believe that social workers are the ones who humbly choose to step up to the plate. We serve as daily catalysts for change on both micro and macro levels. We have the honor of impacting lives for a living.

Each March, we celebrate Social Work Month to highlight the great work we do. The National Association of Social Workers has chosen this year's theme to be "All People Matter" as social workers believe all people are valued, have dignity, and deserve respect. The work we do knows no boundaries and does not discriminate. 

I see this month as an opportunity for two things: to help others truly understand what social work means and to challenge ourselves as a profession.

Social work is a field that began in America 116 years ago with the work of Jane Addams. Social workers work across a variety of settings from hospitals and schools to nonprofit management and providing therapy and humanitarian aid. To put it simply, social work is a profession dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals, groups and communities. 

Brené Brown, a social worker well known for her research on vulnerability, hits the nail on the head with her definition of social work:

"It's not about fixing people. It's about being with people where they are and holding an empathic space for people to do their own work."

And that's what we [social workers] do. We sit with the problems, the issues, and the uncomfortable topics. We sit with people, validate them, and let them know we understand. We provide opportunities and serve as a spark for others to change on their own.

As a profession, I believe there is so much more we could do and more places we could go. All people do matter but how can we ensure that we are effectively reaching and serving them? Instead of looking for jobs within systems and nonprofits, let's think outside of the box. Instead of fearing budget cuts and low salaries, let's create our own programs. Let's dive into social entrepreneurship, do TED Talks, create and innovate. Who better than us? Let's rethink the ways we do things. Let's figure out how to utilize technology more in our work and in our cause. Let’s put our talents, contributions, and skills out there.

Why not?


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