Posted Monday, March 9, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Celebrating Social Workers: A Roundup of Resources You Need to Succeed

Social Work Month is one of our favorite months of the year. Why? Because of YOU!

We love shouting from the rooftops about the superhero work you do to support and empower vulnerable kids, adults, and families. You are a shining light, a beacon of hope for those who need it, and we thank you for all that you do.

To honor how social workers are devoted to getting people the resources they need to succeed, we thought we’d do the same for you. Consider this post your one-stop shop for inspiration, stories, and tips, including:

Editor's note: In honor of the 2020 theme, "Generations Strong," we invited Northwoodians to reflect on how they continue to uplift the profession in their daily work.


Memes Only Social Workers Will Appreciate

We know it's frustrating when you want nothing more than to spend time with clients, but you're buried under a huge pile of paperwork that needs finished. Sometimes you just have to laugh it off! We think these memes will do the trick.

Social work case notes, ugh.
Source: 18 Amusing Social Work Memes to Get You Through the Day 

The busy mind of a social worker
Source: 10 Memes That Every Social Worker Can Relate To

Paperwork is coming

Messy desks are (not) the best

Hey girl, I heard you like paperwork.
Source:'s Meme Generator

Tired of being a social worker?
Source: The Social Work Hub

Social workers show up and make a difference
Source: The Social Work Hub

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Inspirational Quotes for When the Going Gets Tough

Inspiration can be hard to come by after a long/difficult day, so we created these iPad backgrounds so you can always carry some with you. Save your favorite (or all of them, if you'd like!) for the next time you need a boost.

Be the difference Lift yourself by lifting others
Be the light Be an optimist

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Social Workers Share What Motivates Them

We've talked to hundreds of social workers over the years. Here are some of the best quotes we've heard about what motivates them to help vulnerable kids and families overcome some of life's toughest challenges. 

Theresa Houck, Chemung County Kirstin Maska, Mesa County
Kaylo Brooks, Crow Wing County Lynda Erickson, Crow Wing County

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Northwoodians Reflect on Their Everlasting Commitment to the Field

Once a social worker, always a social worker! Northwoods employees with social work backgrounds share how their passion for for the field continues to influence the work they do today.

Bethany Abbott

Here's more from Bethany, who previously spent 10 years providing case management and direct emergency services for various organizations throughout Ohio:

"A big part of social work is advocacy and having the innate calling to help others because it is the right thing to do. After working in the field in a variety of roles, agencies, and support, I have found that those who care the most for others need a great deal of support themselves. This has driven me to advocate for my customers, who are the superhero social workers out there in the field facing many situational and environmental risks to advocate for their clients. I want to be the person that supports and advocates for my fellow social worker professionals, so that they can keep doing what they do best and benefiting our communities. Because it’s the right thing to do."

John Irvin Hauser

Here's more from John, who served Franklin County Children's Services for eight years before joining Northwoods:

"I have empathy for those that we partner with to implement Traverse. Those workers who came before us, had the impossible job of advocating for the voiceless without the technology that we have today. Child welfare casework is draining, thankless, and at times traumatizing. Innovation in child welfare is long overdue. I am driven to give time back to them so they can be mindful of the humans they serve and less preoccupied with their task list."

Michelle Pellman

Hear more from Michelle, who previously worked in child welfare for 18 years:

"To me, a social worker isn’t about a degree or letters behind a name. It is truly a calling that one has to help others in need. Whether you work in a hospital, child welfare agency, or helping the homeless, you are doing an act of social work. Sure, you are a trained professional who has learned ways to best help those in need, but that work starts with your heart. It has to start there; to do the hard work that is needed to help families come from back debilitating mental illness, drug addiction, abuse and neglect, homelessness, and all of the other things that plague our families. It would be too hard otherwise. Your heart is what drives the work. However, it never ends at work. Even when you no longer work in those fields, your heart still remains the same. The drive, the commitment, the goal to get people where they need to be, remains the same. You just want to help people be better off. In all aspects of my life, inside and outside of work, I just want to help others. It is who I am. It is who I have always been. Social Work was just the avenue to which I could use those skills in the work environment. Even today, while working for Northwoods, I am still able to use those skills when I am training and supporting the staff. I consider myself one of them. It never goes away. To touch a life, even if it is just one life, is to make a difference. That is always my goal."

Nancy Miller

Nancy was an income maintenance caseworker at Marion County Job and Family Services and Crawford County Job and Family Services before joining Northwoods.

Rich Bowlen

Here's more from Rich, whose goal is and always has been to give his very best day in and day out to do the most good for the most kids. With over 23 years of experience, Rich is known for his passion for serving abused, neglected and maltreated children and has dedicated his entire career to improving the lives of children. 

"I could never put my finger on why there’s such a drive, other than to say my childhood had a lot to do with it. Today, the biggest part stems from a desire to always try and do the most good. With each contact, or each and every home visit, it becomes more and more obvious that there is a lot of opportunity to do good. Everyone I have ever had the privilege or blessing of interacting with was experiencing real, true and devastating hurt.  Doing the most good quickly became, listening, acknowledging, caring and sharing hope. As one foster parent taught me, 'After all these kiddos have been through, giving of yourself is the very least we can do.'”

Sharla OKeefe

Here's more from Sharla, whose background in social work spans 25 years across various agencies, states, program areas, and positions:

"My experience in all of these areas of social services helps to give me perspective in my work with Northwoods. I have a passion to get caseworkers out in the field, doing the face to face work that they got into social services to do. I also understand the leadership side and the various reasons they may choose to buy our products. It guides me in my training with end users and my interactions with leadership. I still strive to better myself so that I can give back to the profession of social work and the field of child welfare."

Tanya Sabol

Here's more from Tanya, who previously spent 12 years investigating and assessing child protection allegations:

"Throughout my career, I learned to focus on building relationships with children and families to do some really hard work that would not only keep the children safe, but keep them safe at home with their family. I learned that the key to building relationships was honest communication with a focus on what was working well and then doing more of that.  Today, working for Northwoods and working within various child welfare agencies, I am able to continue that same work mentality of building relationships, having honest communication and focusing on what is working well within the agency. It feels amazing to implement Traverse and our other products within an agency, seeing the impact it has with the worker and how it compliments the already amazing work that is being done with children and families." 

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Terrific Tunes for Traveling Between Visits, Appointments, and the Office

The right playlist can help you relax, recharge, or get motivated. Here are a few of our favorites.

Spotify playlist: Songs to Sing in the Car Spotify playlist: Happy Days

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Hangry? Grab One of These Healthy On-the-Go Lunches

These 10 healthy, super-easy lunch ideas require minimal prep time and just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. Pair with a side of fresh fruit or veggies, and you’ve got a tasty, nutritious meal to keep you fortified on a busy day. (Bonus: you can easily eat all of them at your desk, in the car, or anywhere else you need to squeeze in a quick bite!)

You can also find loads of inspiration on Pinterest, including:

Fit Foodie Finds: On-the-Go Lunches Real Simple: Healthy Recipes Lunches on the Go
Fit Foodie Finds
On-the-Go Lunches
Real Simple
Healthy Recipes
Lunches on the Go

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Self-Care Tips for Social Workers

While the rewards of being a social worker are plentiful, the job can take its tollmentally and physically. This blog post and infographic highlight simple ways you can practice self-care, manage stress, and your boost well-being.

Social Work Self-Care Infographic

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