Paving the Way for Change Through Social Work Day

By Caitlin Sheridan

Youngstown State University’s department of social work celebrated this year’s Social Work Month in the Chestnut Room on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The theme, “Social Work Paves the Way for Change,” was selected to convey the message the National Association of Social Workers and the social work profession have demonstrated over the past six decades: bringing out positive changes in society and for individuals.

Social Work Day was a way to thank the field educators and to celebrate students who are graduating and earning scholarships.

Shirley Keller, coordinator of the event as well as a professor in the department of social work, stated that the purpose of the day is to honor those in the field of social work and allow students to network with professionals.

“It makes you proud to be a social worker because we are celebrating the profession and also honoring our clients,” Keller said.

Keller said the event provided an opportunity for YSU to reach out to the community in addition to allowing students to network with professionals in the social work field.

“I hope the students take away seeing how proud they can be being a professional social worker and looking at the role models that are out there to network with and hopefully getting a job in that field,” Keller said. “We are all intertwined with each other and YSU provided the vehicle for that to happen by having this event.”

Mark Sanders, a lecturer at the University of Chicago of Social Service Administration, spoke at the event about “Trauma Informed Care in an Ethical Arena.”

During his presentation, Sanders worked to introduce skills that will enable participants to work more effectively with clients exposed to trauma, including the impact of adverse childhood trauma on adolescents and adults; the role of the social worker in addressing trauma at individual, organizational and community levels; the therapeutic benefits of humor; how to establish healthy boundaries when working with clients exposed to trauma in order to prevent ethical violations; and other strategies to reduce the risk of compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.

Tamara Winans, a YSU graduate, attended Social Work Day for the third time this year. Winans said that she came to the event to network with other professional social workers as well as learn more about trauma informed care.

“I just hope that others, especially current students, understand the importance of networking with other professional social workers. The most useful things I’ve learned during my career have come from other social workers,” Winans said.

Winans explained how she views social work.

“It means meeting people where they are, without judgment and empowering them to reach their goals,” Winans said. “YSU is a huge part of the local social work community. Most of the social workers I know are connected to YSU in some way. The YSU social work program is really growing, and its reputation is really positive in the social work profession,” Winans said.

Along with the department of social work, The James and Coralie Centofanti Center for the Health and Welfare for Vulnerable Populations — a facility in the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services that promotes the well-being of those affected by poverty, disability and discrimination — and the Ohio Drug Card, a free statewide discount prescription assistance program to help uninsured and underinsured residents afford prescriptions, sponsored the event.

Over 300 people were in attendance of the event.