This year’s Social Work Awards luncheon at the NASW-CA Annual Conference was a resounding success. The Social Worker of Year Award was awarded to Lt. Col Valvincent Reyes for his role in developing the military social work concentration at USC’s school of social work. As well as his role as a senior social work officer in the U.S. Army working to install the first-ever PTSD outpatient treatment program, Reyes was accompanied by his wife Marissa, his daughter Marilu, and his brothers-in-law Flonio Sumait and Tristan Camanga. He expressed his greatest gratitude to NASW leaders and chapter staff.
The Public Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Lesford Duncan for his accomplishments as a leader, activist and community organizer in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. He is the founder and director of the Loma Linda University Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce.
Duncan was accompanied by Leah Albright-Byrd, a survivor-advocate and executive director of Bridget’s dream. He emphasized the importance of continued partnership with social workers due to the key role they play in the prevention and intervention for youth at-risk of exploitation. He also urged a greater push for safe harbor legislation, as well as other policies and practices that address exploited persons as victims instead of criminals.
Finally, there were two scholarship awards recipients to Richell Jose and Patrick Ngo. They were awarded the Diana Ming Chan Bilingual Social Work Scholarship by the NASW Asian Pacific Islander Social Work Council.
The Social Work Awards Luncheon is a great time to spotlight and honor the work of individuals devoted to our most vulnerable populations. If you know someone whom you feel would be a good candidate for the awards luncheon, please submit an online form which can be found on the chapter website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to all of the winners and we hope to see you all next year!