This week is Ontario Social Work Week. It’s a time to recognize the tireless work, commitment and profound impact social workers have in our communities.
Never has the importance of social workers been more clear than during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen an increased need for mental health care and support since March 2020. It’s that focus on surging mental health challenges that led to this year’s Social Work Week theme, #MoreThanEver.
Since Day 1 of the pandemic, our social workers have been on the front lines, providing comfort, support, and guidance to people dealing with stress, anxiety, burnout, trauma, and depression. They have provided walk-in counselling to people who need someone to talk with, assisted people with financial, housing, or addictions challenges, supported newcomers navigating their new lives in Canada, and much more.
Every day, they use their training and skills to help people to manage stress, find solutions to problems and connect with much-needed resources and other assistance.
We asked them what their role as a social worker means to them and why they feel committed to continue supporting our community through these challenging times. Here’s what they had to say:
Nalian Youmer, Clinical Social Worker
“Being a social worker allows me to have conversations with folks to reach them from a place of empathy and kindness, fostering trust and ultimately building connections so that they feel heard and seen. Humility is a constant guiding principle for me, I am just as much of a learner as I am a supporter. I love that I have this opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives."
Krystal Layne, Clinical Social Worker
"I love being a social worker because every day my work is not the same, I can never be bored. I am able to step into the lives of vulnerable people and make a difference (even if it is the smallest difference). Being a social worker is not easy as I experience triumphs and devastating failures, but, if I were to choose a career path again, I will choose social work over and over again."
Amanda Hadida, Social Worker, Financial Empowerment
“Every single day, I’m in awe of the resiliency demonstrated by the clients I have the privilege of working alongside. I find it energizing to work together with them as they move towards stabilizing and strengthening their money management skills. An added bonus, I work with an awesome, dedicated team to develop innovative solutions to address complex issues our community is facing when it comes to financial empowerment."
Elizabeth Lee, Clinical Social Worker
"The Social Work team, along with COSS (Crisis Outreach Service for Seniors), Full Circle, and CCIS (Comprehensive Care and Integration Specialist), offer community-based clinical care to older adults coping with complex mental health, health, and psycho-geriatric needs. We work in interdisciplinary teams in health and across sectors as social workers. We listen to and bear witness to our clients’ stories, help to gain access to essential services and supports, and work together to help improve quality of life.
We promote coordinated care, enhance system navigation, and collaborate across disciplines to support our clients. We have the ability to build capacity and help support access to health care, housing, and other fundamental services. Thank you for the opportunity to be a social worker in the community."
Iris Castillo, Clinical Social Worker
"I feel honoured to be a social worker! As social workers we create meaningful therapeutic alliances with our clients, we advocate fearlessly by bringing awareness to social injustice. However, how do we honour ourselves and our practice?
The year of COVID brought a deeper awareness to “mindfulness” practice, challenging [us] as social workers to embrace this practice, a prevention from burnout! Mindfulness helps us to be compassionately present not only for others but for ourselves, fostering an ability to meet what is happening more fully.
Mari LeBlanc, Adult Protection Service Worker
“As an APSW (Adult Protection Service Worker), my role is to do the background support work that can help people with developmental disabilities meet their goals- big or small. What I enjoy about my job is really getting to know people, the slow patient work I do to walk beside people and the chance to always be learning and growing.”
Lilah Rosenthal, Volunteer Social Worker at WoodGreen's Walk-In Counselling Clinic
“I love being a social worker because I get to work with and help people meet a need, accomplish a goal, or simply be there for them.”
Amita Risbud, Case Counsellor Specialist, Homeward Bound Program
"From my previous work in the VAW (Violence Against Women) sector to the current role at Homeward Bound program at WoodGreen, seeing and experiencing women trying to improve their life circumstances, has been very fulfilling. I have a strong sensitivity and deep empathy for individuals who are among minority groups, marginalized, or victimized.
I believe strongly in helping and advocating for others who may be unable to do so or don’t have the proper means to do so on their own. And being a social worker lets me achieve this important goal. Besides being a supportive ear, constant cheerleader, and reliable shoulder to my clients, I have also learned so much about myself in this role as a social worker. And this is the main reason that motivates and excites me to succeed in what I do."