Here I am nearing the end of my college career as a social work student, quarantined during a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19. Due to COVID-19, we aren’t allowed to go inside any restaurants, have any large gatherings, and if we must go out for essentials, we must practice social distancing to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. All non-life sustaining businesses have closed. Department stores, hair salons, movie theaters, childcare centers, schools: all closed. That’s right, all school buildings are closed, with instruction taking place at home.
Now, most children and maybe some parents are happy about this “break”. But what about those children where school is their safe place, their only way of getting something to eat? This is the sad reality for many students in my county. The elementary school where I was completing my field practicum was already sending home food bags with over 100 students every Friday so they would have food over the weekend. How would they eat now?
I wanted to help in any way I could. I soon learned that the cafeteria staff would continue working to provide food for the students. During the first two weeks after schools closed, I helped hand out food bags to students. I, along with the school’s Family Resource Director (my field supervisor), reached out to families to see if they needed anything and if they did we provided information on resources available to them and made phone calls to seek donations for them.
Even though I did not have to continue reporting to the school to complete my field practicum, I chose to do so. This is the social worker in me. Social workers put the needs of others above their own. “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (NASW, 2020, Preamble para.1). For me, and others who choose to be a social worker, we already have the compassion and desire to help others instilled into who we are. Education and experience gained from being a student makes us competent in the social work practice so we can best serve our clients.
This is the beginning of the third week of schools being closed and with the increased spread of COVID-19, it’s not looking like the schools will be opening back up anytime soon. Our lives will continue with this new “normal” until the virus is no longer a threat. I, along with many other students, will finish our college career. There may not be a graduation ceremony marking the end of this chapter in our lives and the beginning of another, but that’s ok. It’s ok because I will still be able to put my all my knowledge and training to work, helping those in need, an act far more significant than a graduation ceremony.
By: Krystal Whitaker, EKU social work student
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