A Tribute to Social Workers: Grateful to Work with You!

If there is one thing I count myself lucky for it is that I am surrounded by plenty of social workers.

Left to right: Tyler Hower, Jennifer Nolley, LCSW, and Jamie Starkey, MSW

Social workers are the backbone of advocacy. They stare injustice in the face so others can grow. They help people know that they are important. In short, they are awesome humans.

Beyond the job description I just gave you, it’s really how social workers think about everything that makes them special. Allow me to explain.

Social workers always remember that people are people first and whatever they are going through doesn’t change that. They accept and meet people where they are in life right now and help those people work through choices in their own life, instead of deciding what is best for them. Social workers believe people and their decisions matter.

“Social work means recognizing the inherent value of every individual and provides supportive services to help them be their best self.”

– Jamie Starkey, MSW, project director at Family Service of Roanoke Valley

Optimism isn’t the only thing that makes social workers’ thinking process special. They are grounded in reality too. Since they work to combat stigmas and stereotypes, accepting others’ differences is first nature to social workers. They believe it is those differences that make people special. If everyone did that, imagine the world we would live in. For starters, there would be no such thing as an internet troll. Instead, people would protect each other like family.

Social workers teach us that it is so okay to fail. They know pain and suffering are real. They understand struggles and mistakes. We are human and we mess up sometimes. They show us how empathy is supposed to work and remind us to not beat ourselves up about a setback.

“I think social work is unique in that it focuses on a systems perspective. There are all kinds of things that make up a person. So instead of ‘fixing’ a person or one particular thing, we look at all of the experiences as a whole. From large-scale community efforts to advocacy on an individual level, social work looks at it all.”

– Jennifer Nolley, LCSW, Counselor at Family Service of Roanoke Valley

They are strong. They are warriors. They are brave.

I say again, social workers are awesome humans. As Social Workers Awareness Month comes to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that you should praise any social worker you know every day. They climb a mountain everyday so more people can enjoy the view.