Social Services Today

Appreciation for social workers
Mar. 09, 2013 @ 08:53 AM

Social work is a profession dedicated to empowerment and possibility.  In recognition of the critical importance of the services provided by social workers, every March is designated as “Social Work Month.” This year’s theme —“Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy”— particularly speaks to the work of the Durham Department of Social Services (DSS.) 

Our hardworking employees—comprised of social workers and other staff—  are committed to being involved in the lives of our clients, helping them develop resiliency and advocating for themselves.  In addition, we are on the front lines of advocacy for each of our clients.  DSS is working hard to help develop relationships with other human-service agencies to make sure needed supports are available to those in need.

In 2005, DSS Board and staff collectively drafted what are now our agency values: respect, integrity and partnership.  These values inform the work we do and shape how we provide client-centered customer service.  Each day we respect the needs and strengths of our clients, work with integrity so that our clients and partners can trust our work, and develop partnerships with clients and community partners to weave a strong fabric of support.

We are committed to putting our values into action. In our everyday work, we assist families with their struggles to maintain their household, ensure that that children and vulnerable adults are safe, help individuals afford medical care and face myriad other challenges.  Guided by our values, our staff is committed to making a difference in the lives of those we serve.

One person whose life was impacted by Durham’s Department of Social Services is Roshouny Johnson. He came into foster care through our agency when he was 9 years old. In his teen years, he was placed with a foster mother who played a positive and instrumental role in changing his life.  After graduating from high school, Johnson attended North Carolina A&T University, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering.

In addition to his work as a project engineer/manager for a contracting firm in Raleigh, he and a friend own “Quicker Sail.” This personal consulting firm is dedicated to helping families and individuals get the best out of life. “Sometimes to get from point A to point B in life,” he says, “you need some help and some guidance.”

And even though he is only 23, Johnson is determined to provide that help and guidance to foster children. He has just completed the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting class offered by our agency to prospective foster parents. After becoming a licensed foster parent, Johnson will open his home to a foster child and will happily foster a teenager.  “I want to advocate for these young people and give someone else the same opportunity that I was afforded as a teenager,” he says.  “My foster mother helped change the course of my life with guidance and instruction.”

Our employees work to ensure that our clients are as successful as Johnson.  To honor some of our hardworking employees this month, DSS will be recognizing our social workers with small tokens of appreciation. One item is a bookmark that says “Inspiring today and improving tomorrow.” 

The bookmark also includes words that express some characteristics of our employees: compassionate, empowering, dedicated, caring, supportive, professional, committed, helpful, passionate, inspiring, sensitive, inspiring, dependable and sincere.  These traits — combined with the critical community partnerships — ensure that the Durham County Department of Social Services will continue to weave together threads of resiliency and advocacy on behalf of our clients.

Michael Becketts is the director of the Durham County Department of Social Services