March was National Professional Social Worker Month, and FCA is celebrating by featuring three of the social workers on our staff. This week, Alex Sollazzo, a Licensed Masters Social Worker and Manager of FCA's Supportive Housing program, talks about why she became a social worker and her roles at FCA.
I have always known, from the time I was a teenager, what I wanted to be when I grew up – a social worker. In high school I was part of the Center for Youth Leadership at Brien McMahon High School, an activist group that raised awareness for child abuse and domestic violence. After volunteering with children who couldn’t advocate for themselves, I knew I wanted to be that voice. While attending Fordham University, I was given the opportunity to intern in the Home Care department at Family & Children’s Agency, offering seniors a spectrum of care that I once knew nothing about. FCA helps seniors remain in their home after a medical limitation, receive assistance with getting to a doctor’s appointment, and even have one-on-one time with someone to just listen about their late husband. That internship showed me that this was the agency I wanted to begin my social work career with.
When I was first hired by FCA I was an in-home social worker with the Caregiver Support Team. I assisted relative foster parents through the daily struggles of raising foster children. With relative foster care, some family members are becoming parents once again, or for the first time. Most clients are grandparents or aunts and uncles who haven’t raised children in more than 20 years. Not only is parenting ever changing, it’s also hard. How do you cope with knowing your own daughter, the person you raised all her life, abused your infant grandson? It was my job to assist those family members in getting through their new life, one day at a time.
After 5 years, I was given the opportunity to grow into a management position. As Manager of Supportive Housing in our Community Connections department, I have the opportunity to supervise hard-working staff who assist previously homeless individuals and families in finding and sustaining housing. Assisting an individual at their lowest point and actually seeing growth and change is the most rewarding part of this position. The homeless individuals we work with share a special bond with their case managers, and often don’t have many other supports due to decisions they once made in the past. Our staff share exciting or difficult moments with the clients. For example, our case managers may be the only people wishing a client a happy birthday or celebrating their 17 years sober. We are also there during life changing news, like “Your housing voucher came in” or “You have cancer.”
Supporting our clients through life can be the greatest but hardest things we do. I am able to help clients deal with not only how they feel, but what they are going to do to change their lives for the better, and I can honestly say I love being a social worker.
Tags: Community Connections | Homelessness