Community is the Heart of Social Work

The love I have for community is what makes me drawn to social work. It is difficult to say any one thing that leads me to this profession. It more or less, came to me. By taking a personal interest on the injustices of our world and an internal drive to fight for the oppressed, I learned about the profession of social work and how it could help me accomplish my dreams of making a difference in this world.

I experienced part of this connection to community, which swells from my own background, where I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina. I grew up in a very “down home” environment where family and helping neighbors were one in the same. I see this same connection to the community in the profession of social work. I have had to struggle to get to where I am today. I have overcome many obstacles and barriers such as poverty and teenage pregnancy. However, it only gave me more perseverance and it helped me realize that we are not alone in this world. We are social beings and we are not whole without one another. It is this disconnect that will desynthesize  human compassion, empathy and understanding. We need community in order for these values to flourish.

Connection and community is what keeps a society strong. To be able to connect and bring people together; to see people come together, and to be a part of that is empowering and rewarding. I was first able to experience this sense of community while at my internship where I learned how important empowerment is to a community and how it is the bridge that holds a community together.

This understanding of connection has led me to the path of community organizing and outreach. I have grown since becoming more involved in my community and this is the practice area where I want my journey to develop. I have assisted Planned Parenthood and Equality NC on social justice events such as Historical Thousands on Jones Street Assembly. Seeing so many people come together and stand united reminds me that we are one people. History has proven that we can change things for the better, if we organize and mobilize. This is the practice area that inspires growth and progress on a macro scale and helps structure society to a better future.

I love this profession for many reasons, to be able to build connections and bridge people to a better life, for moving progress forward by changing policy and having people rethink the social structure they live in, and to question what is right and fight for what is fair.

There is always room for growth in people and societies and social work helps provide that.

Written by Lydia Zaharias Long, SW Student
SJS Staff Writer

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