SSWA Gives Back To The Community

tv_buzzworthy 10dbMONTICELLO – University of Arkansas-Monticello Student Social Work Association makes a positive impact on Monticello and Southeast Arkansas communities.

   SSWA consists of eighteen full members, a faculty sponsor, and several non-members who contribute to SSWA projects. Assistant Professor and Faculty Sponsor for SSWA Donna Taylor indicated that SSWA is student-oriented. Taylor said SSWA, “finds out the needs of the community and raises funds accordingly, if possible.” SSWA Secretary Jessica Coble said that social workers, “help those in need,” regardless of race, gender or cultural background.

   Taylor said that the Social Work profession occasionally retains a negative stigma as “baby snatchers”, but in reality, the Department of Health and Human Services composes only a very small portion of the Social Work field. Social Work professionals impact many avenues of everyday life, including military, schools and hospitals. Since many UAM Social Work graduates stay in Arkansas, students who participate in SSWA create a lasting impact on local communities.

   SSWA participates in many activities to train its students for the workplace. Taylor said that the National Association of Social Work’s Code of Ethics makes it so organizations like SSWA must be involved in macro-practices in order to produce the most effective social workers. This, in essence, means that SSWA must train its students to be familiar with the legislative process.

   This semester, members of SSWA went to Washington D.C., as a guest of Representative Sheilla Lampkin. There, SSWA students gained valuable insight into the legislative process that could be used later in their career to have a positive impact on local communities.

   SSWA also sent students to attend the National Association of Social Work Conference in Little Rock. Sending SSWA students to the conference ensures that students will participate in continuing education in the field of Social Work, as well as network in Arkansas. SSWA provides future social workers with tools necessary to create a better community.

   However, SSWA also participates actively with programs to help improve local communities now. One such project SSWA participated in last semester was a Sonic Card fundraiser. The fundraiser, which raised $500, went to support Hope Place in Monticello.

   Hope Place provides aid for unplanned pregnancies and gives support in obtaining Medicaid. President of SSWA Rex Davis said that Hope Place, “is sort of like a private DHS.” Davis said SSWA plans to do a fundraiser for Hope Place once a semester.

   SSWA also provided aid to Options, a battered women shelter in Monticello last spring. SSWA raised funding through a bake sale, Davis said. Funding for Options became important after Options lost several staff members due to federal cut backs.

   SSWA also participates in Special Olympics. This year was the second year that SSWA participated in Special Olympics, Davis said. SSWA helped at the Monticello Track from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. At any given time, there were five to six SSWA members helping.

   “It was a great opportunity to cheer them on, to encourage them,” Taylor said. Davis agreed about the enriching nature of volunteering at the Special Olympics. “It makes your life issues seem less important. It makes you think of others,” Davis said.

   SSWA also participates in the Clothesline Project. Davis said the Project is a domestic violence awareness exhibit, and one that he plans to continue next year. SSWA will continue to impact the Monticello and Southeastern Arkansas community for years to come. “Don’t call us superheroes,” Coble said.

   Taylor, Davis and Coble stress that an individual does not have to be a social work student to join SSWA. Anyone, they said, can join SSWA if that individual wants to build a better community. For more information on SSWA, contact Donna Taylor at TaylorD@uamont.edu.

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