Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Friday, May 29, 2009

How the Homeless Stay Connected Online

Interesting article over at the Wall Street Journal today:

On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired

From the article:

Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.

"You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper," says Mr. Pitts, an aspiring poet in a purple cap and yellow fleece jacket, who says he has been homeless for two years. "But you need the Internet."

Monday, May 25, 2009

so much reading, so little time

I'm asking for your advice today. I have two accelerated summer school classes (six weeks) and they both require tons of reading.

My shortcoming? I am not a fast reader.

Anyone else out there with this dilemma? If so, how did you conquer this? Is there a way to get the most out of a chapter without reading every last word, or is that my only way? It's not that I don't want to, it's that I don't have time.

I have, for example, almost half of a very thick book to finish by this Saturday. And that is just one of the books in one of the classes.

All and any advice is deeply appreciated.

--Ms. T. J.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's all about me

For the record: This blog is about me.

It is not a reflection of my school (which I've never mentioned) or my classmates (whose names I will never reveal) or anyone else. It reflects my opinions and my experiences as a MSW student. I am writing this blog to, hopefully, shed light on what it's like for a nontraditional student to return to school after being out of the collegiate groove for more than 25 years (almost 30). Hopefully, this rant could be from anyone, anywhere.

And it really shouldn't matter. It's just not that important in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that we, as social workers, really care about people and want to help ...

What it has turned into, for me, is a lifeline. I am able to share, and vent, and laugh at myself, and advocate for myself, and cry and "let go!" Once I write it, it's processed, and I'm off to the next adventure. I, along with every grad student I know, am busy as heck and don't have a moment to spare.

This blog has been a Godsend because many of you have written to me and shared your experiences, your hopes and fears, and your strengths with me -- and everyone else who has read it.

So if you are reading more into it, please don't. Trust me, I'm not thinking that hard!

In a nutshell: It's all about me -- and --I care about you.

It's nothing more and nothing less.

--Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Women's Health Week & the Woman Challenge

This week is the 10th annual Women's Health Week. The National Women's Health Information Center is kicking off the Woman Challenge to encourage women to get more physically active. This is an 8-week challenge with online tools to track your progress.

I have signed up for the Woman Challenge and have created a team, The New Social Worker's Woman Challenge Team--because as social workers, we know that self care is so important. Would you like to join me in this challenge? Click on the graphic link below, register for the challenge, and then join our team! If you cannot find the team, e-mail me at linda.grobman@paonline.com with your Woman Challenge screen name, and I'll add you to the team. Men are allowed to join, too! And it's free. Ready, get set, go.

The Woman Challenge - May 10-July 4, 2009 - womenshealth.gov - Join

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Field Practicum; In Restrospect

My field instructor just called me.

Technically, she's my former field instructor since my last day of instruction was April 24. She said many kind words and told me, in a round-about way, how much she appreciated my work and that I was a very professional intern.

She shared that her co-worker had two interns who missed a lot of days due to excuses such as taking their dog to the vet, getting their hair done, and going to church. She told me that her reply to her co-worker was, "Oh, my intern student would never do that. She was on time, she did very good work, and she always showed up."

I missed a few days. And I was late on occasion. Sometimes I was so tired it was all I could do to get through the day.

I wasn't perfect. But in her eyes, I was exceptional.

My life lesson: I have to let it sink in that imperfection is really okay. And sometimes, when you give it all you've got, regardless of what that means on any given day -- it truly is noticed and appreciated.

--Ms. T. J.

(The photo above is my classmates and I "storming" our state capitol on Lobby Day.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

NAMI and The Soloist

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a new Web site, www.nami.org/soloist, as part of a social action campaign with Participant Media surrounding the release of the movie The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr.

"The movie will help humanize people who live with schizophrenia and are homeless," said NAMI executive director Mike Fitzpatrick. "It will help people look beyond stereotypes and create better understanding of the challenge for treatment and recovery."

"The mental health care system is in crisis. After people exit theaters and leave popcorn behind, we want to translate new awareness into action."

I saw the movie a week ago, when it first came out. It is an important story of homelessness, mental illness, friendship, and music, and I thought the actors did an incredible job of portraying the two main characters, Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez. Also, I read that many of the people in the movie were people who are homeless in real life, playing themselves. I noticed this in the credits--that the characters' names were the same as the actors'.

I learned after seeing the movie that some of it was fictionalized. I also learned that there is a foundation in his name, with the mission to "support arts programs at mental health and arts organizations that serve the mentally ill."

I want to know more about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers' story (he once was a promising young Juilliard student) and the relationship between him and LA Times writer Steve Lopez. I am planning to read the book. Anybody want to read it with me?