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News & Press: NASW-Michigan News

Happy Social Work Month. Social Workers: Generations Strong

Friday, February 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Duane Breijak
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Happy Social Work Month!


I have often said that social workers are born into our profession. It is almost like a genetic factor.  I have spoken to social workers throughout my career who have found themselves in our profession without knowing they were going to be social workers, and this is certainly true for me.  Now as we enter Social Work Month, I have become aware of the large number of intergenerational social workers that exist. What this says to me is that some of us are truly “born” into our profession.


We are influenced by the greatness of our parents, grandparents, even great grandparents and the stories and values that we were told and the leadership our family members have taken in trying to change major issues ranging from refugee assistance, civil rights, prison reform, agency leadership to competent behavioral health care (and much more). I realized many years after becoming a social worker that my grandfather was a union organizer in the early days of the Detroit auto industry, and I was told about his courage in fighting for fair labor laws and work conditions. My grandfather had the spirit and values of a social workers and that fueled my life journey which led me to social work.


My conclusion from this is that many of us found our way to this “gutsy” profession through stories, through models, through family tradition, and through courage of those who went before. Our family history, for many of us, influenced our path. I applaud all of you who are social workers, and for the intergenerational social work families I want to say a heartfelt thank you to those who paved the path.


I hope you will share your stories with us this month as we celebrate our field. NASW-Michigan will be highlighting out members throughout the month and are looking for social workers at different ages as well as social workers who have family generations of social workers to tell their stories. If you would like to contribute your experience please email


Maxine Thome, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, MPH. Executive Director. NASW-Michigan


Click here to share your individual story

Click here to share your family story



Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work.


The theme for Social Work Month 2020 is Social Workers: Generations Strong.

The theme has various meanings. As we enter a new decade it is important to look back and honor the powerful, positive impact the social work profession has had on our society for generations.


We also want to spotlight the life-affirming work that social workers from all generations — from the Greatest Generation to the Z Generation — are doing. And since NASW is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2020, Social Work Month is a great opportunity to remind social workers of the important work NASW has been doing for decades and the need to join.


The Social Work Month campaign will inform the public, policymakers and legislators about the way the nation’s more than 700,000 social workers each day meet people where they are and help them live to their fullest potential. It will also look at the way social workers from every generation – from the Silent Generation to Generation Z – are shaping our society for the better.


For example, there are younger social workers making tremendous strides. They include author and activist Erin Merryn, 34, who is pushing states to pass laws to educate children on how to avoid sexual abuse.


Then there are social workers who have worked for decades for the betterment of society and, in some cases, are still going strong. One is Ruth A. Brandwein, who received an NASW Lifetime Achievement Award for her work advocating for children, the homeless, women and people of color.


Social workers have been doing their heroic work for generations. For example, social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height and Whitney Young have helped Americans secure voting rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs.


Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, with the number of people employed in social work to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Social work is a profession with expansive borders. You will find social workers everywhere in our society. In schools, in centers for veterans, in mental health and health care facilities, in corporations and in local, state and federal government to name a few. In fact, many people do not know social workers account for the largest group of mental health care providers in the United States or that the Veterans Administration is the largest employer of social workers with master’s degrees.


Still, the profession faces challenges. There is a critical shortage of social workers in our nation’s schools, where the profession is needed to help young people deal with complex issues such as trauma, poverty and the impact of our nation’s opioid addiction crisis.


And although social workers play a critical role in our nation’s health care and mental health system, they could be better compensated for the work they do, according to a 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.


So, during Social Work Month NASW will provide these tools to help promote the profession:

  • A Social Work Month online toolkit at
  • Infographics and short videos to educate the public about the many facets of social work
  • A guide to doing pop-up parties that celebrate social work.
  • Videos and interviews that highlight the work various generations of social workers do.
  • An official proclamation that you can get local, state or federal politicians to endorse.
  • Social Work Month merchandise from official vendor Jim Coleman Ltd.
  • Media Awards to TV shows, film and news articles that best represent social workers or issues important to the profession.

Get involved in a Social Work Month Event:

  •  Member Spotlight-With a new decade beginning, NASW-Michigan will help lead this year’s Social Work Month celebration in March with the theme “Social Workers: Generations Strong” to honor the positive contributions social workers have made to this nation over generations. We are looking for social workers at different ages as well as social workers who have family members older or younger who are also social workers. We are looking to spotlight social workers across generations as well as within family generations of social workers. If you are interested in being spotlighted email
  •  Capitol Action Day-will give social workers hands-on experience in the legislative process. Participants will learn about legislative advocacy and will talk directly to state legislators about 2-3 policy issues impacting the social work field at the Capitol on March 19. Sign up today (2 CEs available at
  • NASW Social Work Month Night with the Detroit Pistons -NASW Michigan invites members, family, & friends to celebrate social work month by seeing the Pistons take on Golden State Warriors at Little Caesars Arena on Friday, March 29 at 7pm. Each ticket purchase to the Pistons vs. Warriors Game includes a Pistons item and a post-game shot on the court.
  •  Pop Up Party-#NASW's Having a Pop Up Party for #SocialWorkMonth To Honor & Celebrate the Hard Work #socialworkers do #NASW Invites you to a Pop Up Party at our DC headquarters for #SocialWorkMonth 3.19.2020 4-7 pm ET! RSVP to Too far away? Here's how to host your own!

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