March is Social Work Month, and it’s a great time to celebrate the noble profession of social work. This year’s theme of ‘Generations Strong’ particularly resonates with Jill Powell, Kadan’s very own social worker. Her mother is a social worker herself and inspired Jill to pursue social work as a career.

“I was raised in a family where helping others was a high priority. In addition to my mother’s influence as a social worker, my grandfather and uncle were ministers. It was ingrained in me early on to help those in need and be active in my community,” she says.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Georgia, Jill initially worked on the trauma team at Atlanta Medical Center; there she was introduced to the senior population and saw firsthand the challenges they face in trying to stay in their homes, especially after an illness. She decided to focus her career on seniors and came to Kadan 14 years ago.

In her role, Jill takes the first call from a potential client and assesses how they could benefit medically, physically, socially and emotionally from home care services. “Our ultimate goal is to give elderly people a choice about where they age and to help them function as fully as possible with their wishes honored,” she explains. “Having the perspective of a social worker helps me offer them a holistic approach to their care, and it helps me offer their families advice on navigating their loved one’s challenges.”

What is social work?

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) defines social work as a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.

Social workers fight to ensure that the civil rights of all people regardless of gender, race, faith, age or sexual orientation are protected. Because of their efforts, workers today enjoy unemployment insurance, disability pay, worker’s compensation and Social Security. Mental health now receives the attention it deserves, and social programs are in place to give disadvantaged citizens access to health care and to protect children from neglect and abuse.

Rooted in justice

According to the National Association of Social Workers, the American social work profession was established in the late 19th century to ensure that immigrants and other vulnerable people gained tools and skills to escape economic and social poverty. Since the first social work class was offered in the summer of 1898 at Columbia University, social workers have led the way developing private and charitable organizations to serve people in need. Quite simply, social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. They work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, settlement houses, community development corporations, and private practices. The benefits of social work pay off: it’s estimated that for every dollar spent on social work, there is a $3 return on investment to the national economy.

At the end of the day, Jill says that her greatest reward is seeing people happy and healthy and functioning at full capacity. Thank you for all that you do, Jill!