There were a lot of factors that influenced my decision to become a social worker. It was in part my hope to affect real change in the lives of the people who had been forgotten.  I am grateful that my work with the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center gives me hope, gives our communities hope and gives the individuals we serve hope for a better future.

The inspiration for this blog post was the wonderful experience I had attending and presenting at the National Association of Social Workers 2012 National Conference, “Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work,” this past July.  It was so nice to meet and learn from so many social workers doing incredible work in the face of ever-increasing need, strengthening the hope that we all have.  We heard from diverse speakers including a reporter who had survived and thrived after a traumatic brain injury, a soldier who earned a purple heart at age 20, a Nobel Peace Laureate reminding us not to do “social work by the books” and a musician and dancer from Rio de Janeiro who brings hope to children in favelas by replacing violence with art.  With each speaker we were reminded that there is no such thing as false hope and that strength can and does rise out of extraordinary challenges.

Hope.  The word has become politicized over the last few years, but for me it remains a constant truth and necessity for the work that I do. It is the hope for change, the hope and reality of recovery, and the hope for a stronger people, community, nation and world that keep me working toward that goal.