Written by Lauren, a junior Xavier University social work major. Lauren joined us last year as a Summer Service Intern with Xavier University and now interns during her spring semester with us.
Social Work is a profession that is home to many faces. Personally, I did not realize that social work agencies could exist in the context of policy and legislation until I began college. Growing up, I always thought of social workers as Child Protective Services employees, or case managers in hospitals. I never would have guessed that social work could be so connected to large-scale social movements and social change. March is Social Work Month, so I’d like to spend a few moments reflecting on IJPC and the incredible social work organization that it is.
Social work is a profession dedicated to eliminating obstacles and improving conditions for all members of a society; because, after all, when every member of a community is given an equitable chance to succeed, we will all reap the rewards. Social work is grounded in the belief that society can improve, and dedicated individuals will be at the forefront of that process. In order for a society’s well-being to be changed for the better, we must start by listening to, and standing with, those closest to the margins. IJPC is doing meaningful work that is deeply rooted in this notion.
Macro-level social work, is considered any social work practice that is focused on communities or organizations. IJPC is a perfect example of this. Large-scale change oftentimes involves social workers who are strong in their convictions and willing to advocate for causes that matter. The same skills that allow social workers to connect with clients easily also create the opportunity for structural change.
Social service and social change are two radically different forms of action, but they are both needed in order to create the world we dream of creating. Without agencies offering direct service, people would never be receiving their basic human needs. Similarly, without organizations working towards social change, we would never have policy change; and the systems of oppression would keep on creating harm.
As a social work student, it is an honor to share time in the office with two of the most inspirational social workers I have ever met. Allison is incredibly passionate about the issues IJPC focuses on, and she advocates for change on a daily basis. She very clearly uses her education to effectively work with people, and influence policy and legislation. Samantha uses her experiences to offer education and training to future social workers by supervising field placements and taking advantage of every teachable moment. Both of these women have impacted the trajectory of my social work future in ways I never thought to be possible. If I can positively impact a student during my career half as much as these women have impacted mine, I know that it will be worthwhile. It will never be easy to define the roles of social work, but seeing Allison and Samantha work to create social change in every way possible is something that leads me in the correct direction.
All the work IJPC does is rooted in systemic change. The systems at play in our society are inherently flawed, and a lot of work will be required in order to bring about justice. I’m proud to say that social work as a profession, and IJPC as an organization, are making great strides in order to create this change. A future culture of inclusion, acceptance, and respect may be difficult to view now, but with time, they will be possible.