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Jack Smith Jr., LCSW - Unit Chair


The Tampa Bay NASW Unit celebrated Social Work Month on March 21st at the Horizon Bay of Hyde Park which donated the use of their lovely reception room and provided the crowd delicious food and drinks for this occasion.  At this event, several outstanding representatives of our profession were applauded by the huge crowd that came to be part of the festivities. In addition, the exceptional advocacy work of a survivor of domestic violence was praised. Following this event, a continuing education seminar focusing on clinical practice while working with older adults was presented by Mary Kaplan, MSW, LCSW.

Hosted by Unit Chair, Susan Wade-Infanzon, the event opened with the recognition of Chrissy Dior. After surviving her horrific experience of domestic violence, she has turned her memories into an unwavering campaign to help educate and provide support for others who may be experience domestic violence. She received a standing ovation by all in the room.

After this heartfelt recognition, the Susan started the formal awards portion of the evening. The Tampa Bay Unit recognized the following awardees:

•Social Work Student of the Year:  John J. Beggs, MSW student,
University of South Florida
•Social Work Educator of the Year: Chris Simmons, Ph.D., University of South Florida
•Social Worker of the Year: Paula Welenc, MSW, LCSW, Fisher House, James Haley VA.

Each awardee received a plaque from the Unit along with the opportunity to share their thoughts about the profession and his/her nomination. Not surprising, all stated how humbled they were to be recognized by their peers for doing what they loved. In that room, on this night, there was an overwhelming feeling of being united in being called a social worker.

Following this event, dessert was served while many members stayed to hear Mary Kaplan speak of her experiences of working with older adults over her 41 year career. She spoke of how the role of the social worker has changed as funding sources diminished and new legislative requirements impacted what social worker can and should be doing on behalf of this population. Clinical implications for supporting socio-bio-emotional well-being and independence were offered as well. The night ended with many Tampa Bay Unit members sharing personal stories about their practice with older adults. It was a wonderful night to celebrate our profession.