Words describing social worker's jobOn the wall of the JFS Social Service office there is a canvas print that describes what it means to be a social worker, such as listening and discussing steps with clients, as well as helping people discover feelings and strengths, identifying options, and learning to choose. But, as the artwork states, the biggest part is providing support for change.

A recent example is a senior citizen who came to JFS for assistance with paying rent and utilities. He lives alone and lost his income because of COVID-19 restrictions. JFS was able to provide assistance and connect him with other community partner agency for additional assistance with rent, utilities and food.

But it was during an assessment phone call where a JFS social worker was learning more about the client that it was discovered that the client hadn’t applied to receive Social Security retirement benefits or Medicare because he’d been given false information and thought he wasn’t eligible yet. The JFS social worker was able to help him apply for both.

Now he is receiving his monthly retirement benefits, which are more than his income from before the pandemic.

When you ask the JFS Social Services team why they choose to dedicate their lives to social work, they agree that it stems from wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, even if it is small.

“Being a social worker is about empowering clients to be a stronger, more self-sufficient person,” said Vonna Smith, LMSW, Social Services Program Team Lead. “I want to make sure they’re more capable than before they came to JFS because it not only impacts them, but also the people around them.”

The social service team looks at support systems and their total environment, not just the person. The services JFS provides is often a generational impact on a family. Helping a grandparent, could impact the grandchildren they raise, it could impact their caregiver and so much more, just like the domino effect.

social service team delivers foodThis past year has been challenging for the team.

Typically, social workers are able to focus on helping others but this year has shown that they also have to help themselves. Many of the traumas our community has faced this year – from the pandemic to the winter storm and everything in between – have effected the team as well.

“This year was a great equalizer,” said Kat Phillips, LBSW, Social Worker. “Everyone in the community was on the same page. I’ve become more introspective and increased my self-care this year. I had a big realization how hard isolation can be.”

Now, more than ever, the team uses grounding techniques and practices self-care to make sure they are ready to tackle the needs of the San Antonio community. If you’d like to use some of these techniques, check out this blog post with lots of ideas. Anxiety-Reducing Exercises>

March is National Social Work Month

This is a time to celebrate those provide social services around the country. The theme this year is “Social Workers are Essential.” We couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much to our JFS Social Services Team – Vonna, Kat and Cassidy – for all your hard work and dedication serving the San Antonio community.

We also want to say thank you to the donors who support the JFS Social Service program, especially the Jewish Federation of San Antonio and the Kimmelman Fund.

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