By Telawna Kirbie
March is National Social Work Month. This is a time when social workers are celebrated because of their critical importance to individuals and communities.
You may ask, “Where might I find a social worker?” The answer is, anywhere someone is in need.
Social work began by meeting the needs of immigrants, people living in poverty, and abandoned and neglected children. Since the early days of social work in the late 19th century, the field has vastly expanded, and you can find us everywhere.
Social workers are in hospitals, schools, higher education, churches, military, mental health, substance use, family support, justice system, hospice, aged care services, child protection, housing, police departments, primary care clinics, disability services, big corporations, at all levels of local, state, and federal government, and something I learned just recently, public libraries.
Social work, at its core, is based on the belief that every individual has the right and potential to lead a productive and fulfilling life. Social workers believe in the importance of human relationships and that every individual possesses inherent dignity and worth. Social workers have accepted the charge to bring social issues, inequities, and injustices to the public’s attention and provide advocacy where change is necessary.
I stumbled into the field of social work after my dream of being a supermodel faded and nursing had too much math and, quite honestly, sights and odors.
I have always had a genuine desire to help others. In total panic mode, I went to my college advisor and took a placement test which revealed two career paths for me. One of those was nursing (which I had already ruled out) and social work (which, at the time, like so many, I thought meant working for Child Protective Services and taking people’s kids away).
I took a class and immediately fell in love. I knew my heart’s desires fit perfectly with the values of social work. The understanding came easily and naturally, and I cannot imagine working in another field. I am extremely proud to call myself a social worker and abide by the values and ethics of the social work profession.
No doubt I will be celebrating this month along with the over 720,000 social workers in the nation and one of the fastest growing professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Social workers are an integral part of the work Prosper Waco does in our community. We have five full-time social workers and a whopping six interns. Work done in the social work role includes research, community collaboration, needs assessment, resource linkage and navigation support, case management, data collection, policy advocacy, grant-writing, and program development and implementation.
To wrap up this article, I want to highlight the wonderful social workers I am honored to work alongside at Prosper Waco.
Social Workers of Prosper Waco
Deneece Ferrales, Ph.D.
Tiffany Gallegos-Whitley, MSW
Natalie Szot, LMSW
DeAngela Bynum, LMSW
Telawna Kirbie, LCSW-S
Madison Pollock-Baylor MSW
Gabrielle White-Baylor MSW
Jade Rumminger-Baylor MSW
Tre’ Baldwin-Tarleton BSW
Olivia Smith-Baylor MSW
Michaela McElroy-Baylor MSW
National Association of Social Workers, www.socialworkers.org
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives with Prosper Waco.