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Oct
08

5 Inspirations for a Career in Social Work

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Social work is both a demanding and rewarding vocation. It is a career that offers diversity and an opportunity to make notable differences in people’s lives. These 5 American individuals have made notable contributions to and impacts upon the social sector and may inspire your career progression into social work.

How you could become a pioneer of the future

You are now able to obtain a social work online degree that can prepare you for a role in areas such as social services, policy analysis, or within health agencies and better position you to implement change and improve lives. Like the people you are about to learn about, it could be you who is next to deliver significant transformations within the social care sector.

William C. Pugh (1921-1989)

Pugh’s 35-year career in social work had a significant impact in Alabama. He established and executed a number of social services programs for the citizens of Alabama, including a legal service program for the under-privileged and both a day care and advocacy program for those with developmental incapacities. In addition to this, he also contributed to the development in academia within the University of Alabama. 

He later became a Director of AGAPE, an agency committed to supporting children and families with a number of social issues, such as marriage counselling and adoption matters. Perhaps his most significant legacy was as a discoverer of talent and mentor to numerous social work professionals, many of whom continue to carry out high levels of care to the Alabama community.

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Addams was a pioneer of social working in America and was the first ever American woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. She is considered to be the founder of US social work as a profession and had significant political influences.

Jane recognized the connection between governmental services, such as schooling and sanitation, and the role of women within the household at the time. This connection formed a valid argument for women to secure the vote, influence services that would enable families to be better supported, and better improve and support their communities.

She also co-founded Hull House, which later became renowned as one of the most famed settlement houses in the USA. Drawing in an array of prominent figure heads, driving support, and providing a voice for those in the greatest need, Hull House studied and campaigned for improvement in:

  • Midwifery
  • Over-crowding
  • Truancy
  • Substance abuse
  • Child and working women welfare services
  • Housing

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Wells was a significant figure-head for the progressive movement and fought relentlessly for gender and racial equality. She was a founding member of a number of associations centering around the right to vote for and the inclusion of African-American women as well as equality for all Americans. 

As an established journalist, she was the first to record the lynching of African-American people and was a leader for many anti-lynching campaigns. She worked alongside Jane Addams in opposition to segregation in schools in Chicago and helped establish settlements for migrating African-Americans heading to the South. She is now commemorated in the Ida B. Wells-Barnett museum in Mississippi, which is a hub for African-American history.

Alfred Neumann (1910-2002)

Neumann was an advocate for the Jewish population during his 30+ year career in social services. He worked in Denver, New York, Cleveland, Ohio, and Minnesota among others within Jewish Social Service organizations to improve family and child services, including adoption, counselling, immigration, and rehabilitation. This included the implementation of vocational and psychological screening and workshops. He consulted with other agencies to assist in the resettlement of those seeking refuge due to persecution, war, and natural disasters, for example, and provide comprehensive support and counselling to allow them to deal with the individual and family problems they were suffering from. 

In addition to this, he also consulted the Office of Economic Opportunity at a senior level, training in administration and resource management in order to better utilize volunteers. He was also a pioneer in the reorganization of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service social service and family counselling programs in Colorado. He was awarded for his substantial contributions in Colorado, and this ultimately resulted in the 30th of June 1982 being dubbed “Dr. Alfred M. Neumann Day” by the Governor of Colorado!

Frances Feldman (1912-2008)

In 1970, Feldmen conducted a ground-breaking study that inarguably revealed the outrageous discrimination facing many cancer sufferers in the work place. It evidenced that there were a multitude of unfair and, in some cases, even unlawful stipulations placed on employees who had survived cancer. The results of her study had a direct impact on the improvement and amendment of legislation for fair employment in many states across the USA, according to the National Association of Social Workers. 

She was a pioneer in many areas of social care during the course of her career. She worked tirelessly in her exploration of the impact of finance and work on social and mental health for Americans, and private firms even sought out her insight regarding employment restructure proposals. Her write ups on these subjects still resonate within the field and collect both national and international attention to this day. She was inundated with reward and recognition for her contributions to social service matters and continued to research, teach, and volunteer both in America and worldwide long after her retirement in 1982.

Changing Lives

The 5 individuals above are just a small selection of the many people who have made ground-breaking impacts in the American social service sector. As you can see, the areas you can become involved in are plentiful and diverse, and social work provides an opportunity to not only support others but to contribute to significant change and improvements for causes that are important to you and those in your community. Social work is an industry that quite literally allows you to change lives and achieve potentially life-changing fulfilment in your own life through supporting others. 

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