In a letter to the editor, Hoboken Council President Emily Jabbour highlights that a panel taking place this evening will recognize Social Work Month.
Recently in Hoboken, Panera Bread on Washington Street, decided to remove in-store dining. What happened next was a slew of press coverage, Facebook posts, and community conversations.
As a social work professional, it was clear to me that the need for social workers, as part of the municipal response, has never been greater.
March is Social Work Month and the theme for this year is: Social Work Breaks Barriers. This theme especially resonates because social workers are on the front lines of helping communities, like Hoboken, overcome challenges, including economic inequality, reproductive rights, racism, and natural disasters worsened by climate change.
More than 700,000 social workers nationwide entered the profession because they have a calling to assist those in need and make our communities, our nation, and our world a better place for all.
For generations, social workers have broken barriers to help people live better lives, and they continue to break barriers by empowering people in difficult situations.
For more than a century, social workers have led to the creation of a minimum wage, a 40-hour work week, and the implementation of Social Security benefits. Chances are over the course of your lifetime, you, a family member, or a friend have been helped by a social worker.
According to a new survey released this month by Ipsos, a global market research firm, 80 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of social workers.
And 81 percent of people who have interacted with a social worker say a member of the profession improved their situation or that of a family member. These aren’t just data points; these are people and individual lives.
These helping professionals work everywhere — hospitals, mental health care facilities, child welfare agencies, schools, and veteran center, and in local, state, and federal government.
Social workers, like New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, continue to work to ensure our government uplifts the most vulnerable in our society.
Or, like Emily Dalton, conduct outreach work through the Hoboken Public Library with open office hours and workshops like ID Preparation. Or, like Carrie Ellis, a school-based social worker with the Hoboken Board of Education who provides students with the supports they need to thrive.
Driven by my own desires to make the world around me a more equitable, just, and better place for all – not just some – I also serve as City Council President in Hoboken, as well as Co-Leader for the Hudson County Chapter of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization dedicated to gun violence prevention and advocacy for common sense legislation addressing gun violence for all communities.
My social worker core, education, and beliefs are what drive me to serve my community in an open, empathetic, and purposeful way not just this month, but every day of every month.
Social workers have been at the forefront of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
When most of us were quarantined at home, social workers were out in their communities—making sure children and at-risk youth were attending classes over Zoom, providing food and other resources to the elderly, helping those with substance-use disorder get the help they needed to stay sober, and helping tens of thousands of people of people stay connected to loved ones quarantined in nursing homes or at hospital.
They continue to break barriers by advocating for student-debt relief, equal rights for all, and improving delivery of health care and mental health care.
The need for more social workers is reflected in data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which notes social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. An expected 800,000 social workers will join the profession by 2030.
Yet, social workers need your support. They deserve higher salaries and more programs, such as student loan forgiveness, that make it easier for people to enter, work, and remain in the field.
Consider contacting your Congressional representative and urge them to support the Improving Access to Mental Health Act and the Social Work Reinvestment Act, legislation that would support the profession.
There is rarely a silver bullet that is capable of addressing our most complicated societal issues.
However, I am optimistic that the recent decision by the City of Hoboken and Mayor Bhalla to expand the scope of the Office of Constituent Services with the hiring of two social work professionals will be of great service to complex matters like businesses on Washington Street that feel that they must move to a take-out only model.
During Social Work Month and beyond, I urge you to learn more about the profession and what you can do to help assist them in their positive, life-affirming work – the Hoboken Public Library is hosting a panel of social work professionals this Thursday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Branch (500 Park Ave in Hoboken).
Please join us to learn more about this important work and how you can be a part of positive change in your own community.
Emily Jabbour, MSW
Council President, Hoboken City Council