On April 1, I interviewed Ilivia Wilkes about the history of social workers. National Social Worker Day was March 19 and I wanted to know more about social work and what social workers do. Social workers are community heroes that do not get the recognition that they deserve. 

Johnvonda Jackson (Me): When did social work class begin, and where? 

Ilivia Wilkes: The social work class began in 1898 at Columbia University and created a way for the development of charitable and private organizations to offer services to people in need. 

Jackson: Who founded social work? 

Wilkes: Its founder was Jane Addams, among the first females to get the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Jane is famous for developing settlement structures in Chicago in the 1900s for immigrants. She was a dedicated peace activist and community organizer.

Jackson: What are the roles of social workers?

Wilkes: The role of social workers is to bring to public attention and address the social problem. The social workers collaborate with institutions and families to address any abuse or neglect faced by the society individual. The National Association of Social Workers states, “Today, Americans enjoy many privileges because early social workers saw miseries and injustices and took action, inspiring others along the way. Many of the benefits we take for granted came about because social workers-working with families and institutions-spoke out against abuse and neglect.” 

Jackson: What are some of the things social workers attempt to address? 

Wilkes: Some of the things that social workers address include the rights of all individuals, despite their faith, race, sexual orientation, or gender, to ensure they are protected. They also ensure employees get unemployment insurance, disability payment, workers’ compensation, and social security. Additionally, it ensures individuals with mental issues and any form of development disabilities receive treatment, prevention of child neglect and abuse in society, and to protect people with mental illnesses from stigmatization. Lastly, it ensures old, and people with disability have access to healthcare.  

Jackson: Do you know any prominent social worker? 

Wilkes: There are several famous social workers, such as Dorothy Height, Harry Hopkins, and Jeanette Rankin. She was the foremost female to be chosen to Congress in the U.S.


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