Social workers share benefits of membership

Oct 20, 2015

The power of unity is one reason, social workers say, belonging to NASW is important to them.

From developing the NASW Code of Ethics and professional standards for care to advocating for social justice and services for those in need, NASW’s history shows membership matters.

This month marks the association’s 60th anniversary. With that in mind, members reflect on why belonging to NASW benefits them professionally, aids in their clients’ well-being and furthers human development and understanding.

The association’s 60th celebration is an opportunity to show others that NASW is made up of people who have the skills, knowledge and passion to help others, particularly disenfranchised people, said NASW member Valvincent Reyes.

“The knowledge, achievements and dedication shows in our history of service to others and (the anniversary) provides a good opportunity to pay it forward,” said Reyes, a retired U.S. Army social worker and Afghanistan veteran who is an LCSW at the Del Amo Hospital, Warrior Support Program, in Torrance, Calif.

“It gives our future social workers and students a background of the positive history that has taken place,” he said. “The social work pioneers and their work, innovative interventions, diverse populations who have been served and compassionate advocacy for social justice, provides them with positive role models — making them proud to be a social worker.”

Reyes said he is particularly appreciative to be an NASW member because the California chapter has been supportive in providing a network of comprehensive services for military members returning to civilian life.

“Our chapter director, Janlee Wong, encourages social workers to participate in the civilian re-entry process by providing continuing education in evidence-based practice, and collaborative work with other veteran-service organizations for helping military members transition back to civilian life,” Reyes said.

Tricia Bent-Goodley, a professor and the director of the Ph.D. program at Howard University School of Social Work in Washington, D.C., says NASW represents the profession.

“It speaks for the profession, and its strength lies in social workers supporting the organization,” she said. “I have been an active member of NASW since I became a social work student. I am proud that NASW continues to fight for the profession and to advance the recognition of the role of social work in society.”

“NASW represents our collective voice to policymakers and the public,” she added. “There are so many social work organizations that represent particular areas of practice. NASW is where it all comes together for me and where we —  social workers, regardless of our specializations — receive advocacy and collective advancement.”

Bent-Goodley noted it’s important for social workers to take a moment to reflect on their positive work by honoring anniversaries.

“I think we spend so much time on what isn’t going well that we often do not recognize the vital role we play in society and in the broader public discourse,” she said. “Social workers are often at the helm of organizations and movements. They drive change in their immediate circles and within their local communities.”

Social workers need to recognize those contributions, she said.

From the October 2015 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story here.