Parallel Histories Between Parker and Social Work
By Roberto Muñiz
Since March is National Social Work Month, I’d like to share an interesting similarity between the history of Parker and the history of social work.
When we discuss Parker’s culture one starting point often is Henrietta Parker. Seeing the benefits that compassionate, person-centered care had for her ailing husband, Francis, she decided to establish a nursing home in New Brunswick that offered such care to others. In the early 1900’s Henrietta was a pioneer in the work of creating home-like environments that offered the highest standard of care for older adults. We continue to draw inspiration from her work.
In the same era, America was witnessing the beginnings of the field of social work. One leader in this area was Jane Adams, who, with Ellen Gates Starr, founded Hull House in Chicago’s Near West Side neighborhood. "Settlement houses" like Hull House brought together native born men and women who agreed to live in poor neighborhoods and provide a variety of services for new immigrants – services like day care, libraries, employment bureaus, and citizenship classes. Jane Adams wrote a lot about the work of Hull House, producing 11 books and many articles, and gave speeches about Hull House’s experiences across the United States. She was truly a pioneer in the world of social work.
Parker is truly blessed to have caring and dedicated social workers in each of our homes and programs. These social workers, women following in the footsteps of Henrietta Parker and Jane Adams, are serving as pioneers to introduce the latest advances in compassionate care at Parker – such as the STAR-VA program, our new Parkinson’s activities, self-directed work teams, and other important initiatives.
On the occasion of National Social Work Month, let me offer our collective thanks to our social workers – Marcy, Samara, Katie, Kathy, Mary Jo, Melissa, Mollie, Tamsin, Tara, Erica, and Wanda – for all they do to lift our spirits and our standards. We are grateful for their professionalism, their dedication, and their exceptional compassion.