It is hard to believe it when I type it, but 25 years ago, I moved to Philadelphia to study social work at the University of Pennsylvania. Wow. 25 years. It’s my silver anniversary as a social worker. Wow, the stories I could tell you…
Every March is designated as Social Work Month. This year’s theme: “Elevate Social Work.” I think an excellent way to elevate my profession is to tell you all a bit more about the work we do through story. So, here’s mine.
Several years ago, I worked with a woman with cancer and her spouse. They were an amazing couple who, despite a terrible diagnosis, lived life fully and purposefully. Their favorite place was an island in the Caribbean where they owned a small vacation property.
As her health declined, she knew she wanted to make a few more trips to their happy place. It took a lot of planning and arranging to be sure she had everything she needed to manage her disease while away. But, we got it done. And off they went.
After a trip there, which would be her last, they returned, smiling and sun-kissed, sharing photos of their trip and their lovely island friends. Her health was rapidly declining. We all knew this. That made the trip that much more meaningful. They both thanked me over and over again for helping to make the trip happened. And then, they gave me a sea shell they brought back from the island for me. It was small, smooth, and beautiful. And, it still sits on my desk today, 7 years later. Social work is a hard profession, and we are not often thanked for the work we do. This little shell meant the world to me, and still does. I knew I made an impact helping them to take that trip and make memories while they still could. And, that shell reminds me everyday of the importance of the work.
I hope to share more stories with you over the coming weeks. If you are a social worker and you’d like to share a short story about your work, please feel free to email me, [email protected], for details.
And if you are a patient or client, thank a social worker who has impacted your life. Gratitude elevates us and our work.
Happy Social Work Month!