The universe of social services is populated with heroes.
That’s the theme that emerged from our year-end review of blogs we posted in 2017. Every story we attempted to tell contained an individual or an organization that went above and beyond the norm in service to their constituents.
They thought up creative new ways to solve old sticky problems. They worked long hours often surrendering their personal prerogatives to support clients in need. They were selfless beyond the norm and have truly made a difference.
Remember the social workers who went into action to assist flood victims who had lost everything during the hurricanes in Florida and Texas when they themselves had no home to return to at night.
We were delighted to again read about Agnes Gund, the millionaire widow from New York’s Fifth Avenue who sold an original Lichtenstein for $160 million and donated all the proceeds to start the Art for Justice Fund because she noticed that her neighbors in Harlem were being unfairly treated by our justice system.
Or Ami Campbell, the MBA graduate from the Harvard Business School who traveled to Tanzania to work with single mothers and realized that the women she met were no different from her. The only difference was that she had been given a start. Realizing that giving from sufficiency can be more redemptive than giving from abundance, she began to help the women of Tanzania with her own money. “I can live on a lot less and be content,” she said. “Giving away excess reduces desire and creates more excess.”
Taking a hard look at the heroin crisis gripping America, Annie Rittgers realized that current thinking did not grasp how the heroin epidemic had taken hold. She knew that radical creative thinking was needed to even begin to find a solution. She decided to hold a hackathon in Cincinnati, Ohio to bring together coders to think “outside the box” and create solutions.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness
After 150 years of working to eradicate homelessness, social workers at The National Alliance to End Homelessness realized that the problem had continued to get worse in America. They had the courage to look at their own best efforts and realized that while they had been trying to attack the causes of homelessness, they were leaving the homeless...well…homeless. They began the Housing First initiative that put everything else aside until they found clients a place to live.
Joyce Craig in Manchester – Michelle Kaufusi in Provo – Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta – Yvonne Spicer in Framingham – Lyda Krewson in St. Louis – Valerie Plante in Montreal – La Toya Cantrell in New Orleans – Michelle De La Isla in Topeka – all heroic women elected mayor of their respective cities in this last round of voting. Seeing a need for dramatic change, they decided it was time to step in.
This space allowed us to mention only a few of the everyday heroes we encountered throughout 2017. We congratulate all those we chronicled this past year and will continue to tell stories of the everyday heroes of social services in 2018.
-Happy New Year-