March 6-12 is Social Work Week in Ontario – an opportunity to thank and recognize the important work that social workers do every day. During the last few years, with a pandemic, rising inflation, a housing crisis, and so much more, it is more clear than ever that #SocialWorkIsEssential to help our communities thrive.
Here at WoodGreen, a number of our staff use their education, skills, and experience in social work to support our clients of all ages who are facing a variety of challenges. This week, we will introduce you to some of them.
Be sure to revisit this blog each day this week to meet another one of our staff and learn about the variety of careers you can have at WoodGreen with a social work background.
Danielle Maillet – Manager, Financial Empowerment Operations
When someone thinks of social work, financial topics such as budgeting and income taxes don’t normally spring to mind. However, Danielle’s role, which is a part of WoodGreen’s Financial Empowerment team, brings social work and finance together to help clients navigate financial challenges.
As the Manager of Financial Empowerment Operations, Danielle is responsible for all the operations of the Financial Empowerment Program, including WoodGreen’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinic, one-on-one financial counselling, and financial literacy support.
“I think the thing I like most about my job is the impact I believe financial empowerment services provide clients,” she says. “I truly believe in the work and am excited to have the opportunity to develop and grow the field of financial social work.”
Danielle first got to know WoodGreen when she completed a student placement with the organization while completing her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). She had a very positive experience and became a staff person with the organization a couple of years later. Recently, she was promoted to a manager role. Her work is different every day. Some of her tasks include program development including doing project planning, developing funding proposals, assessing the programs to see where there can be improvements, and also supporting front-line staff to serve clients.
“My fellow colleagues highly motivate me,” she says. “I am privileged to work with some wonderful, inspirational individuals at WoodGreen, who have taught me so much and I hope to continue to learn from them.”
Tenzin Lhakdon - Psychogeriatric Specialist
This month marks Tenzin’s one-year anniversary of working for WoodGreen as a Psychogeriatric Specialist. If you haven’t heard of a Psychogeriatic Specialist before, it’s someone who helps people to continue to live in their community independently, healthily, and safely.
Every day at work, Tenzin provides counselling and connections to home and community care, primary care providers, and government and social services programs. She meets with her clients face to face to determine what supports they need to continue to live independently. She enjoys the flexibility that her role offers her to set her own schedule and align her time based on the needs of her clients.
“What inspires me in this role is when I am able to build a safety net around the client of various care providers so that their well-being is taken care of at all levels,” she says.
Sath Arulvarathan - Manager, Supportive Housing
For the past six months, Sath has been the Manager of Supportive Housing at WoodGreen’s newest supportive housing building for seniors at 540 Cedarvale Ave. The location provides permanent housing for seniors transitioning away from being chronically homeless.
“I enjoy working with a team of experienced workers who deeply care for the residents,” he says.
In his role, Sath is responsible for supporting the clinical team at the site— client support workers, case managers, personal support workers, and other specialized healthcare professionals—in providing wrap-around support for Cedarvale residents. Even though Sath hasn’t been at WoodGreen very long, he is seeing the positive impact that his staff are having on the lives of the people who live at Cedarvale.
“There is an individual who was housed recently, after being homeless for nearly a decade. His history is fraught with incidences of him not being able to cope well and being discharged from shelters and housing,” he says. “However, he is realizing that the staff at the program are here to support him and want him to succeed. He’s been at Cedarvale longer than many other programs he frequented previously.”
Jennifer Ernewein – Manager, Homeward Bound
Jennifer has been part of the Homeward Bound team for the past eight years, helping single moms to lift themselves and their children out of poverty. What motivated her to be part of the program was a very personal reason.
“As someone who was raised by a single mom, Homeward Bound definitely caught my eye as an innovative program that helps to address all the systemic barriers that single moms face in trying to better their lives and the lives of their children,” she says.
“It warms my heart to be part of this incredible program. I always like to say that good things happen when we invest in women and children.”
Jennifer started as a case counsellor and is now a manager of the program. In her role, she supports her team of case counsellors who are highly committed to supporting the program’s participants and ensuring their success. She also coordinates with partners for program delivery and oversees daily operations.
“The greatest pleasure of this job is supporting our participants’ hard work and celebrating their successes such as college graduation and securing a job in their field,” she says.
Rebecca Chan - Program Coordinator, Youth Wellness Centre
Rebecca joined WoodGreen as a Program Coordinator with our Youth Wellness Centre in December 2021. However, her relationship with the organization has been much longer than that.
“I grew up in East York and attended a WoodGreen child care when I was a kid. Then, when I was in high school, WoodGreen helped me find my first summer job,” she says. “So, joining WoodGreen just felt like coming back full circle. It feels good to be able to give back to a community that helped raise me.”
In Rebecca’s role with the Youth Wellness Centre, she oversees the coordination of youth programs, events and outreach. There is a lot of variety in her job. Some days, she helps youth to connect to the right programs and services or does intake for the Youth Wellness Subsidy Program and even helps run the after-school drop-in and much more.
“The thing I love most is the energy that youth bring into a space and the trust that builds over time,” she says.
Naghmeh Hosseinisedehi - Clinical Counsellor, Counselling and Support Services
Naghmeh is a clinical counsellor at WoodGreen on our Counselling and Support Services team. She provides counselling and case management support to diverse clients, ages 16 years and older. She helps her clients to meet their goals by using various therapy methods, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy.
She joined the WoodGreen team during the fall of 2022 and is enjoying it so far.
“WoodGreen [has a] positive work culture where employees’ mental health is considered to be a priority. I believe it is crucial to work in a place where you can take care of your mental health and personal life as well as your professional life.”