You Better Work! Social Work, That Is.

Mar 2016

It’s World Social Work Day! We’re taking today to celebrate the social workers on our team, as well as talk about what “social work” means to get a better idea of what it is these awesome people do!

According to the International Federation of Social Workers, “social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing. Social workers are counsellors, health professionals, case workers, teachers… They’re people dedicated to serving others.

So why do we need social workers? This year’s World Social Work Day theme gives a pretty good answer. Today we focus on ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples.’ Regardless of their area of study or focus, at the end of the day, social workers help others recognize and increase their personal sense of dignity and worth. All life is valuable. Social workers understand that value and work to protect and feed it in the lives of the people they worth with.

We’re proud to have a few social workers on the True Colors Fund team! I spoke with Christa, Laura, and Coco about what inspired them to go into social work and asked them to share what this year’s World Social Work Day theme means to them.

Christa Price

Christa Price, MSW

Program Officer

Luckily, as a young person, I had a very good experience and relationship with my church and my church community. While I understand that not everyone has that experience as a young person, the clergy and my church family were the folks who I looked up to and the folks who were doing the kind of work I wanted to be doing when I grew up. I looked up to them because they were the ones advocating and providing services for the most marginalized and were able create an environment where everyone was welcome. They were doing the work that I wanted to be doing. For a while, this translated into me wanting and striving to go to seminary. I actually have an undergraduate degree in religious studies because of this. Once I was introduced to social work and learned more about social work’s relationship and commitment to social justice, I knew that’s what I actually wanted to do from the beginning.

I want to borrow a quote from the SW Code of Ethics (which I love):

“The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession’s history, are the foundation of social work’s unique purpose and perspective:

  • service
  • social justice
  • dignity and worth of the person
  • importance of human relationships
  • integrity
  • competence.

This constellation of core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.”

Laura Kanaplue

Laura Kanaplue

MSW Student Intern

I came to social work school being certain of the population I want to work with and at what capacity. My story is that I had struggled for many years with my identity. As a community organizing student, I want to develop programs and safer spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. In addition to my work with The True Colors Fund, I am the owner and operator of a blog called Girl In A Bow Tie. I continue to strive to make the blog a community for people to ask questions and discuss issues within the LGBT community. What started as a fashion blog has now turned into a community organizing effort for my followers.

Social work promotes dignity and the worth of people by helping them access their own strength and encouraging them that it exists. For me, social work is about giving people a voice whether it be at the macro level with a large community or on a more micro level with one person. Allowing people to give voice to their concerns and issues is just the starting point of making change – and that’s what social workers do!

Coco Wheeler

Coco Wheeler

MSW Student Intern

My identity has been rooted in social work for as long as I can remember. I started as a direct service worker within the foster care system and later the juvenile justice system, seeing firsthand how policies and institutional oppression impact folks on an individual level. Working as a case planner afforded me the great privilege to advocate for youth and families both in courtrooms and agency meetings, resulting in reduced sentences for my incarcerated clients and access to supportive services for youth in care.

Promoting the dignity and worth of people is inherent in social work, but it is not achieved by a single action. It is achieved by supporting communities, advocating for change, and co-constructing new realities. Being a social worker means envisioning a different future. At the True Colors Fund, every day there is a future envisioned where LGBT youth do not experience housing instability or homelessness. I am proud to be a social worker, and I am excited to continue a life of advocacy!

Is there an awesome social worker in your life that you want to celebrate? Join us by tweeting with the hashtag #WSWD16!