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Diane Beckerle O'Brien
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UMSL School of Social Work Day of Giving
After the burning and looting that occurred after the release of the grand jury’s decision last Monday, students at the School of Social Work wanted to get together to talk and to do something for the community. The result was a “Day of Giving” in Ferguson on Friday, November 28. More than 20 students, friends and family gathered to work on several projects organized by Dr. Kristen Wagner, who was assisted by the Student Social Work Association. Our Day of Giving was a small way for us to help Ferguson begin its recovery and to begin processing what had happened in the past week.
One planned opportunity was to help the Ferguson Library staff get its shelves back in order. This seemed strange at first, but because the Library has been a safe place for children and families, particularly when schools have closed recently, its staff has not had time to reshelf books, DVDs, and CDs. On Friday the library was packed, and our work allowed the staff to respond to numerous queries and to continue their programming for Ferguson residents. The Library has been active in community building and is planning other resources for children and families. We hope this will become a longer-term relationship as new programs are developed for the community.
Students also helped paint boarded up businesses providing hope for community building efforts. At one of the paint sites, we were approached by a business owner who, with tears in his eyes, thanked us for our efforts and expressed his hope for Ferguson’s future. At that same site, three young boys hung out for a bit to see what we were doing. They talked about what it was like to be living in the community during the protests, seeing the tanks roll in, and being afraid the fires would reach their home. The boys walked down the road for a short time and came back, enthusiastically reporting that the tanks were gone and stores were beginning to open. They joined our painting efforts, stood back to look at their work and quietly state, “That’s better… that’s much better.”
Thanks to everyone who joined us. Small acts of kindness can go a long way.
School of Social Work Students, and Dr. Kristen Wagner, Who Gave Their Service to Ferguson!
BSW Alumni - Awarded a Grant
Alexandra Barth, a BSW student who graduated in May 2014, received a grant of $2,500 to put towards a fitness circuit on the playground of an elementary school in Kentucky. She developed this grant proposal in her spring SW4350 class to help the school district where she did her undergraduate practicum get this grant. The funding is from CSX Transportation, Kellogg Company, the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, and Action for Healthy Kids.
Alexa began the MSSW program at the University of Louisville fall 2014.
- "I must say I would not have had the success I have experienced if it were not for my fantastic professors, the field education staff and my invaluable BSW advisor at the UMSL School of Social Work. Each one of you have given me a solid base from which to leap into the professional world and continue on with my Master's program at University of Louisville. Each and everyday I use what I have learned at UMSL in either my studies, my personal or professional life. Thank you again for all your support." Warmest regards, Alexa Brath
Practicum students inspire hope and change lives!
Social work students know they will be using the practice skill learned in social work courses in their agency practicum. Most cannot imagine how they will change lives. Linda Downey’s practicum provides mental health services through a crisis hot line that provides services to callers across the country. One evening the call Linda answered was from someone who had possibly taken pills to commit suicide. That evening, Linda utilized her coping skills and education she had recently received regarding suicide assistance and attempted to engage the caller. With the help of a co-worker, Linda attempted to keep in contact with the caller while local police were contacted to try and locate the caller with no identifying information, other than a phone number. Even after the local police who were tracking the phone number said the call came from within a 1000 mile radius of town in another state, Linda kept trying to engage the caller who continued to refuse to give her address, would get angry and hang up and, eventually, stopped answering the phone. Finally three and a half hours later, Linda learned that police in a city about 500 miles away had located the caller and, although the caller was unconscious, they were able to take her to the emergency room for help. Afterwards, Linda said she was “ grateful for the education I received to help me stay calm and feel more prepared to take action.”
- As a non-traditional student, my experience in the Master of Social Work Program at UMSL was everything I hoped. My interactions with the professors, staff, and fellow classmates were incredibly enlightening. The atmosphere was supportive in many ways. I am proud to say I am confident that the educational foundation that I have acquired will last throughout my social work career. In addition, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy knowing that I have become part of a lifelong network of professional people. If anyone asked whether I would recommend the program to prospective students, I would answer, "Yes without a doubt." Anonymous
- I am a former BSW student and just wanted to say hello. I am currently working as a behavioral health supervisor and also in private practice. While at UMSL, I worked to organize our Student Social Work Association with your (Dr. Lois Pierce) help. I am glad to I always remember our positive interactions and what a great experience I had in the BSW program. Sincerely, Shannon Oesch