Social workers shine light on profession during Social Work Month

May 3, 2013

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

Social Work Month 2013 video:

Kathy Shelton-Riek, associate professor of social work at Livingstone College in North Carolina, takes great pride in being a social worker. For her, National Professional Social Work Month, celebrated every March, means something special.

“I think it is critical that we keep the dream of Jane Addams alive,” Shelton-Riek said of the social work pioneer. “The sacrifices (of our) professional foremothers and forefathers need to be remembered, honored and celebrated.”

NASW presented a special poster to U.N. officials to mark Social Work Day at the U.N. on March 25, 2013.

During March, Shelton-Riek arranged for 80 Livingstone College students — social work and non-social work students — to attend the NASW North Carolina Chapter Lobby Day. It was an impressive feat considering Livingstone prides itself on being a small, rural college.

“Livingstone had more attendees at our Lobby Day than any of the other 34 social work programs in North Carolina,” noted Valerie Arendt, director of Membership, Marketing and Communication at the NASW North Carolina Chapter. “Kathy also was able to have the mayor of Salisbury, N.C., Paul B. Woodson Jr., proclaim March 2013 to be Social Work Month in North Carolina,” Arendt added.

Social Work Month means taking action, Shelton-Riek said.

“We have been a profession for more than 100 years,” she said. “It is critical to share our story with others and to keep the dream alive — to inspire, create new dreams and hopes in the new generation of advocates; to weave stronger fibers into the tapestry of social work — to keep it growing into an even stronger profession.”

“The celebration of Social Work Month gives professional social workers and students an opportunity to showcase the profession and to educate others about what we do,” Shelton-Riek said. “Many view the role of social workers as limited to only one practice,” but Social Work Month offers the chance to highlight the many diverse practices in which social workers are qualified to work.

Social workers across the U.S. echoed the efforts and sentiments of Shelton-Riek.

For examples of how social workers chose to celebrate and advocate for the profession during Social Work Month, visit

Read the full story here.

From the May 2013 NASW News.

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