By S. Jolene Hui, MSW, LCSW
NASW-CA Director of Membership
We are in the middle of a huge movement right now. Now is the time for change. Over the past handful of months our lives have been occupied by COVID-19 and civil unrest. It’s been chaotic and transformational at the same time.
I went to graduate school to be a therapist and quickly learned that being a social worker was way more than being a therapist; being a social worker is a way of life. Being a social worker means always advocating for social justice. It means being in the middle of social change and helping make that change in times such as these. It means taking a stand and doing.
At NASW, I am fortunate to see change happening all around me at many different levels. During the recent months I’ve been working more closely with Rebecca Gonzales, our Director of Government Relations and Political Affairs, and her calendar is packed daily for the advocacy she does with our state government, meetings with community partners and coalitions, and all of the other work she does.
NASW-CA’s outgoing Executive Director, Janlee Wong, recently assisted our Mississippi Chapter in advocating for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem, a symbol of white supremacy and hate, from their state flag.
Our current summer MSW Membership intern, Alex Michel from UCLA, has been heavily involved in activism in Orange County. She has been organizing protests and different call to action events, attending and speaking at the OC Board of Supervisors meetings, and is helping to start a grassroots organization called Orange County Protests’ Community Coalition whose mission is to promote unity and collaboration between local Orange County organizations and the community at large in order to advance social justice in Orange County.
However, we as an organization are much more than our staff members. We are a volunteer led organization with leaders who are social workers on the frontlines fighting for social justice every day. Through their work with clients, organizations, and communities, they are constantly incorporating our Code of Ethics into their daily activities. They are choosing to live the ethical principle of social workers challenging social injustice.
Our leaders who spend most of their lives advocating for a better world continually inspire me. My friend and colleague, Ahmanise Sanati, serves on our board as the Region H Director and has been extremely active in her council district in Los Angeles. She volunteers with Westside Pacific Villages delivering meals with her children weekly. She’s stood in the middle of her city on a corner with a bullhorn for nine weekends in a row to take a stand against injustices. She is building alliances within her community to improve the lives of others and is also advocating with her City Council member for social workers to have a voice when new public safety policies are being constructed.
Change is happening now. Like Ahmanise and others have recently said, voting is not enough – we need to be making a difference in other ways because it is our responsibility. And even if this feels like a heavy responsibility we have to do it. We have the skills and the compassion to make this world a better place. Whether it is your time, your money, or both, we have to put our energy into changing our society for the better.
We at NASW-CA want to let our social worker leaders and members know that we fully support you in your advocacy and activism efforts. We support your partnerships with local organizations, we support your protests, and we support your fight for social justice for all. We know that Black Lives Matter and we are going to continue fighting alongside you.
S. Jolene Hui, LCSW is NASW-CA’s Director of Membership and can be reached at email@example.com. She is also part-time adjunct faculty in the MSW program at California State University, Dominguez Hills where she is a foundation year field liaison.