Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Social Work Job in Alabama - NASW Executive Director

NASW Alabama Chapter Seeks an Executive Director

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - Alabama Chapter, a professional association with over 1,000 members, is seeking a dynamic and energetic leader to serve as its part-time (.75 FTE) Executive Director. 

The successful candidate will be responsible for all aspects of administering and leading a nonprofit association. Qualified candidates will possess a minimum of two years of managerial experience and a bachelor’s degree, MSW preferred. Proficiency in communications, financial management, MS Office, conference and event planning, member services, and volunteer management is required. 

Additionally, the ideal candidate should have experience in membership marketing, social media and website maintenance, nonprofit board development, and public policy advocacy. Our executive director must demonstrate a strong commitment to the NASW mission and social work values. 

The position requires a self-directed executive who is capable of being actively involved in the day to day operations as well as all executive management functions. Some travel is required. Salary range is $35,000 to $38,000, with an excellent benefit package. There is a strong potential for growth in salary and full-time status with success in this position. 

NASW- Alabama is an equal opportunity employer. Qualified applicants should e-mail their cover letter and resume by April 28, 2014 to Nancy Francisco Stewart, Search Chair, at naswaledsearch@gmail.com Please direct any question to us via this e-mail address.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Music and Alzheimer's Disease: A Social Worker Facilitates iPod Program

My father, a musician who loved to entertain with his portable keyboard, knew of the gift of music to those with memory loss.

As a volunteer he went around to nursing facilities to play for the residents, many of whom were memory impaired. He told us of the lights that would come on in the faces of those who responded to the 20's, 30's, and 40's tunes he played. Some danced, some moved... but they all responded.

So it was not a surprise to me to hear the ABC news story about the Social Worker who saw the importance of music in the lives of the memory impaired. ABC news reported:

Dan Cohen, a social worker in New York, came up with the idea in 2006 to take unused iPods and make them available to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. He started by creating playlists for residents at a local nursing home. In 2010, Music & Memory was created and iPod donations by the thousands poured into Cohen’s organization. He has found that the music has a very positive impact on the lives of these patients.

Click here to find out how to donate old iPods.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

March 2014 is National Professional Social Work Month - Ideas, Celebration, Social Work Gifts Galore

March is National Professional Social Work Month 

Social Work Month will be here before you know it. Along with this yearly recognition comes a great opportunity to promote and enhance the visibility of our profession.

We need to take off our clinical hats and don our marketing hats in order to understand what wonders we can accomplish.  First decide what audience you wish to reach.   Will it be the social workers in your organization, legislators, administrators or, the general public?  And what message do you want to carry to them? Will this be a time of recognition, a time to reach out into the community with a new service, or a charge to right the wrongs promulgated by the media?

Once you decide on your audience and your focus, it will be time to draw up a plan. When planning, it is important to consider those you hope will support your endeavor.   If you plan to ask your administrator for financial support to put on a recognition luncheon, go to that administrator and ask what their thoughts might be regarding how to best recognize the staff. Work together to creatively finance the effort.

If you want to have your colleagues join you, it is best to involve them from the beginning. Be open to their ideas and feedback. Encourage them to participate in a committee effort.

Once you have others involved and have heard their ideas, develop a plan with concrete tasks and deadlines. If you are fortunate and have a group of people working with you, allow them to select tasks they wish to complete. The more involvement, the better.

Give yourself and your group plenty of time. Hurrying around at the last minute, when you have a full caseload, will not bode well for your health or your nerves. Plan ahead, develop a list of tasks, involve others, and meet frequently to update each other and look for loose ends.

It has been a rough year. Perhaps your agency has gone through a major change, laying off staff.
You decide that the focus of National Professional Social Work Month this year should be recognition of the staff.

Here are some ideas:
  • Involve the leadership of your organization in putting on a special breakfast or luncheon honoring social workers. Appoint an administrator to give a brief speech of gratitude and support.
  • Develop and place posters honoring the social work staff in key places around your organization. Visibility is rewarding.
  • Organize and host a "Caring for Yourself" retreat. Send the staff off-site for an afternoon of relaxation, self-care tips and even neck and shoulders massage.
  • Work with your organization's public relations department to devote an issue of the organization's newsletter to social workers and their work. Encourage staff photographs and highlight their accomplishments.
  • Purchase National Social Work Month buttons or design them yourself. Imagine seeing the physicians in a hospital sporting "I Love Social Workers" buttons all month!
There are some unique and interesting ways you can celebrate Social Work Month with an educational focus:
  • Set up a "professional resource fair" and invite vendors and agency representatives to come and provide poster sessions and hand-outs covering their products and services. If you work in a hospital, for example, you might invite some of the local DME, transportation and assisted living companies. In addition, consider a vendor from the local bookstore. Often vendors are so thrilled to participate they will offer a doorprize or two. (Hint: check your agency policy on gifts).
  • Invite an inspirational speaker to make a presentation to your staff and others whom they might want to include.
  • Purchase some new books for your departmental resource library and notify the staff that the titles have been added in honor of National Professional Social Work Month.
Want to reach out to your community, share a program or promote the skill of your staff? Here are some good outreach ideas:
  • Proclamation. Arrange for a proclamation to be written by your Governor's or Representative's Office. It is easy if you give the staffers enough time and information. Ask for their format way ahead of time. Include the proclamation in a news article or present it at a community meeting.
  • Community Presentation. Invite local community leaders to a Social Work Month presentation. Whether it be a new program or a review of your services, this month is an excuse to promote your services.
  • Community Resource Fair. Organize a fair of consumer-oriented resources. Ensure that your programs are represented, literature available to hand out and social workers staffing the tables. Ensure a good turn-out by writing letters to community groups and promoting the event in the local newspaper.Serve refreshments!
  • Informational Publication. Develop an informational hand-out. (Hint: Perhaps you can obtain a small grant to cover the printing.) Your hand-out could include the services social workers provide, where to call for assistance, and the community agencies available. Mailings could target community members and groups.
Image Enhancement
National Professional Social Work Month, just by virtue of the title alone ensures that our professionalism is promoted. Social workers seem to be a mis-understood group of professionals. The media's portrayal of our work doesn't help. But we don't do enough to promote our work, either!  Some ideas promoting our professionalism are:
  • Speakers Bureau. Set up a Social Work Month speaker's bureau. Let local schools, community groups and churches know of your availability. Select a range of topics that represent our profession well.
  • Career Fair. Organize a career fair and invite students. Ensure that the Social Work booth has information on the education and training needed to become a social worker. (Aside: When staffing a booth at a local high school career fair, students were amazed that social workers needed to attend college. One even said, "I thought your work was done by volunteers!")
  • Media.  The local print and television media can "be your friend." Engage a local reporter in an interesting story showcasing the talents of your staff.
Excuse Busters
Haven't we heard them all? The excuses for not doing anything about our professional month are many. However, an optimist can find an "excuse-buster" for each excuse!
  • Excuse #1: We don't have time.
    Excuse-buster: It seems as though there is considerable time spent grumbling about the lack of recognition social workers get and about the lack of knowledge people have about what social workers do. How about putting some of this negative energy into positive action?
  • Excuse #2: We don't have enough staff.
    Excuse-buster: If the idea is wonderful enough, people will adjust their workloads to help. What are you doing now that can be put aside? How about canceling a staff meeting? Consider using volunteers. One social worker I know organized a community resource fair and enlisted her husband to make and serve popcorn!
  • Excuse #3: What's the use?
    Excuse-buster: If the celebration is well planned and targeted and if you use some of the proven ideas here or new exciting ideas from your staff, you can and will make an impact.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Strategies for Keeping those New Years Resolutions

Should you resolve to walk the Golden Gate Bridge
if you haven't worked on your fear of heights yet?

It's easier to make than keep those New Year's resolutions. Turning over a new leaf, resolving to do better... our New Year's resolutions are a time-honored tradition. The turning of a new year brings with it hope, and a desire to start anew. So what, pray tell, will you do?

 Here are some great ideas for making your resolutions stick. So, before you take pen to paper or keyboard to computer, think about what might be realistic, achievable and possible for you.

1. Write down your resolutions, think about them for a day, and revise them to make sure they are what you really want to do. Is this the right year to take that trip to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge or do you want to wait until you've worked on your fear of heights?

2. Pare down your list to one or two achievable resolutions. It may not be a good year to stop smoking, lose weight AND plan that job change. A resolution list like that might be a set-up for failure.

3. Share your goals with someone. It is easy to slip away from your goals when no one else is following your plans. Make sure this is someone who cares about you and will be supportive or someone who wants to accomplish the same goals you do.

4. Consider professional advice. If you want to quit smoking before your job change, for example. Consult your physician to find out the latest information on successful smoking cessation programs. Ensure that your plan will work well with your current medications and health conditions.

5. Ensure that you have realistic goals. Taking a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Hike in 2014 might not be realistic if you have yet to start a walking program. How about a commitment to walk around the block daily, then in a month, increasing that walk to a mile and, in 6 months, tackling a flat 5 mile trail in a State Park. You can do it!

6. Pace yourself. Break down your overwhelming big goal into tiny baby steps. If you want to lose all that weight before your wedding, begin by researching weight loss strategies (Step 1), then progress to choosing one and signing up (Step 2), then, once you are involved, set your weight loss goal and timeline (Step 3).

The main point to remember is to be reasonable. Achieving your New Year's resolutions can be as simple as taking time to think out your strategy and plan for your success.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Changing Your Direct Deposit on the Social Security Website: They don't tell you there is a delay!

There are things you don't know about the Social Security "do it yourself website." I changed banks and, of course needed to change my direct deposits.

So as soon as I had my account number, I went onto "my" Social Security. I had established an account so that I could make changes, like change of address or direct deposit.

I went to the page where you could change the bank for a direct deposit and filled out my account information. I was offered the option to start the change in November or December. I chose November which was the next month at the time.

So the usual day for a direct deposit from Social Security rolls around. It's Wednesday and there is nothing new in my account. I decided that it must be a bank posting issue so waited until Thursday... NOTHING!

On Friday, I decided to call the bank. They reported nothing from Social Security had arrived and that there had been no "test ping" to my account from them either. So that afternoon I called the Social Security main line and talked with a very helpful man.

He told me that recently they had found that there were some unauthorized changes made to Social Security recipients' accounts. So they, Social Security, had decided to initiate an additional month's lag time before a requested change could be implemented. During that time, Social Security would send a notice via snail mail to the recipient to notify them of the impending change. If they did not initiate the change, they could then call and avert an unauthorized change being made.

So when I saw "November" as an option on the drop down menu, November was not a real option for me. They needed time to mail me the notice.

I discussed with the nice guy on the phone that "November" was offered as an option and there was no notice about the delay on the website. He agreed and intimated that changes would be made... eventually.

He also initiated my change and got things rolling as quickly as he could. The result, my Social Security check would be a week late.


Another retiree lesson learned!