By Katie Ciarelli
The month of March is National Social Worker month. As a social worker for Parker Adult Day Center, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to honor a brilliant social worker, a man who proves the statement true that “once a social worker, always a social worker.”
Lew Schwartz, a participant in our program, enjoyed a long career in social work. He was the director of social services at St. Peter’s Hospital for many years. Lew has mentored many new social workers, and helped a countless number of people. His work is not yet finished.
To celebrate National Social Worker month, Parker’s Social Services team gathered in the Parker Cottage for a round table discussion led by Lew. It gave him a platform to impart wisdom gained from his long career as a social worker, and to share insights on his recent experiences with the aging process, the changes that have come, and how it has affected his life. Lew rose to the occasion, delivering a candid account of his reactions to life changes, and describing aging issues that affect him and his family members. His account was honest, articulate, and through the eyes and words of a social worker.
Lew shared the importance of perseverance, stressing that, “the best way to get out of bed is to get out of bed
.” He emphasized the value of social interaction, which is the reason he attends Parker Adult Day Center. Lew told the group that he appreciates life even more now, enjoying the little moments and time spent with his family.
For Lew, it is not easy to be the “client” instead of the “provider.” However, he still finds opportunities to help those around him because social work isn’t just his profession - it’s who he is. Lew welcomes those who are new to our program with open arms, and advocates on behalf of himself and his peers.
In my first year as a professional social worker, I embrace Lew’s guidance, feedback and reassurance. Our relationship is reciprocal – I may be a social worker and he a participant in the program, but I am also a mentee and he is my mentor. He reminds me every day to use the title “MSW, LSW” after my name to show the pride I have in my profession.
For National Social Work month, on behalf of the Department of Social Services at Parker, we tip our hats to Lew and to all those who have chosen a lifelong career helping others. Being a social worker makes me proud, but the opportunity to spend my days with Lew fills me with even more pride.