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Sharing HerStory On The Road To Wellness With BIPOC Clinical Social Workers Who Are Creating Safe Spaces

By C. Scott

March is National Social Work Month and Women’s History Month.  Some may only view the social work profession as being related to child welfare settings.  However, there are many facets within the social work profession. From case management to policy reform, social work is a diverse profession.  Many women of color are working tirelessly within the ranges of the helping profession to help others along their journey to wellness.  Wellness may be in the form of access to resources, grant writing to achieve funding, community organization, and even policy changes to eliminate adversity.  Here are five BIPOC social workers who are sharing their versions of HerStory in Social Work:

Twana Williams

Email: poetic292002@yahoo.com

What inspired your career in social work?

“A desire to help others, and help individuals change their perception. It’s about making a difference and by that, I mean the change must start with you. To be able to make changes and offer support to improve the outcomes for your service user there is no greater reward or job satisfaction.”

What are some of the greatest rewards and challenges that you have had in social work?

“I currently work with the HIV population. We often assist the homeless, individuals that aren’t residents of Florida, and substance abuse users. It’s challenging because there isn’t enough funding in the housing market to assist the homeless or to assist those who are transitioning to become self-sufficient. Working to assist with maintaining medical adherence is difficult when our patients are faced with homelessness and no other options. I see great reward when I’m assisting with applying for temporary Medicaid/Medicare, cash assistance, or programs that will assist my patients; and they get approved. That feeling of accomplishment for that one individual is a sense of relief because I was able to help change that person’s negative perception.”

How are you impacting communities of color as a social worker?

“I address socioeconomic factors that have negative impacts in our community. I work towards increasing awareness about HIV and the regimes that are available to help stop the spread. We have support groups every 4th Tuesday of the month that collaborate with awareness and ending the epidemic. I’d like to believe the role I play is important to the community I serve.”

Destiney Kinsey

Email: destineykinsey@gmail.com

What inspired your career in social work?

“I always knew I wanted to help people. I just didn’t know how. I then realized that social work was the perfect avenue for this! Social work is broad and I knew that broadness would allow me to help so many people in multiple ways. I get bored very easily and social work allows me to switch up work settings, populations and responsibilities. I love that I can work anywhere from a hospital, a school, a jail, the federal government, technology companies and everywhere in between. Social workers truly do our job everywhere!”

What are some of the greatest rewards and challenges that you have had in social work?

“The greatest challenges I’ve had in social work have been navigating insulting pay offers and tuning out negative thoughts of others. It can be challenging to interview for a role and at the end, receive an offer that is not anywhere near your worth. It also can be challenging listening to others who tell you that you will never make money in social work or telling you about their negative experiences being a social worker. I’ve learned to tune those things out and run my path, my way. I also do not entertain jobs who are not paying my worth and beyond. My greatest rewards in social work always include seeing change. I love to see the changes in my clients from the start of services to the end. To see increased confidence, healthy boundaries, improved self-esteem, etc fills my heart with joy. I also love to see organizations where I have trained or conducted workshops, and put policy changes into place that result in employee wellness. To be able to see the culture of an entire organization shift because of contributions that I have made is truly rewarding.”

How are you impacting communities of color as a social worker?

“I am impacting communities of color as a social worker by educating young social workers on knowing their worth, encouraging them to pursue their passions and assisting them with navigating workplace bias and stressors. I leave the door open for up and coming social workers to ask questions and receive feedback. I would not be the social worker I am today without the guidance of amazing veterans in the social work field like my professor Jacqueline Garrison, my former coworker Alexis Young and awesome social work career woman Tierra Heard, just to name a few. I can’t think of a time I’ve asked a question of any of those ladies and haven’t received some form of helpful feedback. Within my community, I’m providing therapy services that are culturally competent. I provide a safe space for Black women to share their problems and I work with them to help to resolve them. I also give back to my community by educating stakeholders on DEI principles, with the hope that we can create fair and equitable hiring practices so that individuals in our communities of color can receive the same occupational opportunities as our non-Black counterparts.”

Trishna Monplaisir

Email: tmonplaisirlmsw@gmail.com

What inspired your career in social work?

“I’ve always had a desire to be in a helping field after completing summer youth employment as a teen. I loved working with children as a teen and now enjoy holding space for those who need to work through their emotions.”

What are some of the greatest rewards and challenges that you have had in social work?

“I love that the field is so broad and that there are many things that you can explore to determine what population you would like to work with. Creating interventions for individuals with mental health diagnoses was a challenge at times but I’ve learned to meet clients where they are with the hopes that they will desire change as they heal.”

How are you impacting communities of color as a social worker?

“I’ve created a program (The Release Program) to aid the black and brown community in schools and in companies where they have the opportunity to work through their emotions to decrease the chances of burnout, anxiety and stress.”

Lequita Brooks

Email: lequita@therapytopia.com

What inspired your career in social work?

“I love helping people! Plus, I’m naturally gifted at navigating life and problem-solving. It only made sense to pursue Social Work because of my strengths and the freedom and flexibility a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree offers. I was a Mom that was Single with a four-year-old when I decided to go to school full-time to attain my MSW degree to change my life, my child’s life, and everyone’s life that I ever encounter forever. It was the best decision ever!”

What are some of the greatest rewards and challenges that you have had in social work?

I went from “Social Assistance” to “Six-figure Social Worker” that is now a full-time business owner who helps other Social Workers start and grow their coaching, consulting, and contracting business so they can have more impact, money, and time for self-care, family, and travel.”

How are you impacting communities of color as a social worker?

I’m always answering questions and sharing my expertise in the Black Girls In Social Work (BGSW) group to help other Social Workers get to the next level. Also, based on the concerns and challenges that Black Social Workers have discussed, I decided to start The Social Work Incubator to support MSW Students and Social Workers with going from Ideation to Impact.”

Naeemah Staggs

Email: naeemah.staggs@gmail.com

What inspired your career in social work?

“I began my career as an Early Childhood Educator where I learned about the significant impact of family, community and environment on child development. From there I decided I wanted to have a broader impact on the communities that were essentially raising children.”

What are some of the greatest rewards and challenges that you have had in social work?

“The rewards include empowering communities to be the solution and spreading the message of hope and resilience to communities that have been traditionally marginalized. The challenges include the historically negative perception of social workers, particularly in my field of child welfare.”

How are you impacting communities of color as a social worker?

“Through my work at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, I have equipped hundreds of child welfare workers with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to effectively serve children, youth and families involved in the child welfare system which we know disproportionately impacts BIPOC. As a Consultant and Trainer I have trained hundreds of professionals, caregivers and other members of the community on issues such as child maltreatment, trauma and mental health. As the author of the eBook, Pillars of Protection: The Black Mama’s Guide to Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, I share strategies for protecting our most vulnerable. These are all issues which have been traditionally stigmatized in communities of color so my goal is to spread awareness in an effort to move BIPOC communities toward resilience and healing.”

Celebrate and honor those who give to serve others in their needed capacities.  Thank a social worker today and support various opportunities within your community.  It takes a village to create change in our world.  Connect with each of these trailblazing professionals who are striving to make our world a better place.

Writer C. Scott is an authorpreneur, mom and freelance writer who also offers literary services. Follow her online as @curls_coils.

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