March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize the individuals who dedicate their professional lives to advocating for others. Sound Generations is fortunate to have many compassionate, dedicated social workers on staff working to support older adults and those who care for them every single day. We are taking this opportunity to highlight the essential work that they do, as well as learn more about each of their unique journeys and passions that drive them in their roles with Sound Generations.
People choose to become social workers for lots of different reasons, sometimes very personal ones. Can you share your own motivation for choosing to pursue this career, and what you hope to accomplish in the future?
“People in difficult circumstances have been taking steps to care for themselves and others in their families, their neighborhoods, and their larger communities, regardless of the involvement of social workers. On an individual level, I want to be part of supporting those resilient efforts and getting barriers out of the way for people to live a fuller life. On a collective level, I want to be part of transforming the historic wrongs and ongoing social injustices that perpetuate scarcity conditions. There should be fewer obstacles for people to overcome to live by their means. This matters to me because it is about living a fuller life with everyone and sharing that as much as possible. I can’t imagine a life without people caring for each other, even if just sharing the recognition that things are not alright, but they could be. I don’t have to be a social worker to be part of that, but I chose the profession to be a means to do more with what I have been given.”
– Jms Stuivenga, LSWAIC / GRAT Clinician
What is something you wish more people knew or understood about social work, or about being a social worker?
“Social work has a particular focus on equity and inclusion. Social workers consider people in their environment and the interplay between our internal worlds and external systems of privilege and oppression.”
-Nikki Bagli, Caregiver Counselor & Clinical Consultant
How has your experience working at Sound Generations been different from other social work roles you have held previously?
“The biggest difference between this current social work position and others I have held, is that few situations are really a crisis. I used to work in a hospital where most interactions were a result of a medical crisis. Now, I work primarily with seniors who are mostly independent and functioning pretty well on their own in the community. I find the slower pace at the center and in this community refreshing. It allows me time to really develop relationships with people and see them on a repeated basis, and I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the work I am doing now. Sound Generations celebrates Aging…and I like that a lot!”
– Kelly Fujiwara, MA, MSW, Social Worker/Resource Navigator, Sno-Valley Senior Center
What is something about your job that you look forward to every day?
“I look forward to assisting older adults to problem-solve and to address and hopefully resolve issues that are affecting their quality of life. I also appreciate the ongoing learning and the variety of challenges that I’m faced with every day.”
-Jill Bieler, Social Worker at Shoreline Lake Forest Park Senior Center
It’s no question that social workers experience a tremendous amount of emotional exhaustion just by the nature of the work that they do. What is something you do to take care of yourself outside of work? Where do you find joy?
“I have been a social worker for more than a decade, and one of my greatest challenges is finding the balance between caring for work and caring for myself. My passion of systems change is also big in my personal life. I spend a lot of time encouraging voter participation, engaging elected officials, following community development and challenges, and staying tuned into current events. In our current climate, this is incredibly trying. However, my passion for being a part of creating a healthier world prevents me from completely checking out. So, a lot of self-care is about finding a balance. I try to alternate reading fiction with nonfiction, policy books. I take walks through Seattle’s neighborhoods, finding joy in small things like creative yard art and gorgeous sunsets. I love taking mundane photos with my FujiFilm instax camera.”
-Sabrina Jones, Director of Assistance Services
If you could give any piece of advice to those considering pursuing their own social work career, what would it be?
“Go for it! One of the beauties of a social work career is that there are so many ways of being a social worker: working with children or adults, in health care settings, home health and hospice, or as an administrator.”
-Toni Ameslav, MSW, Social Worker at Senior Center of West Seattle
Follow us on Facebook & Instagram, where we’ll be sharing more Social Worker highlights all month long!