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SMC to hold social work week

Caitlin Housley | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To inform, to learn and to volunteer — those are the goals of Saint Mary’s Social Work Week.

This week, the Social Work Department will highlight its diverse field of study with various events held each day, including a speech today by Laura Recio, a registered play therapist supervisor of Counseling Solution in Spes Unica at 9:30 a.m.

The importance of social work week has its grounding in teaching students about what they can achieve with a social work degree.

“Students learn that they can work in diverse settings, including hospitals, medical centers, schools, congressional offices, mental health centers, colleges and businesses,” Dr. Frances Kominkiewicz, director of the Social Work program, said.

However, the week benefits all students, not just Social Work majors.

“Social work is essential in the way we live our lives today. Typically people link social workers to Child Protective Services and Welfare offices, but social workers are everywhere, and their positions can be found under almost every career heading,” Alma Bravo, a junior Social Work major, said,

Wednesday, students can learn how to de-stress with a lesson in origami art in the Saint Mary’s Student Center atrium from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Becky Ruvalcaba, the executive director of South Bend’s LaCasa de Amistad will speak from noon to 1 p.m. in the West Wing of the Noble Family Dining Hall.

According to Kominkiewicz, LaCasa de Amistad is a non-profit organization that provides services to the Hispanic community.

Friday wraps up the week with a breakfast outside of the Social Work suite on the second floor of Spes Unica from 9:30 to 11 a.m., and a speech on Gerontology by Andrea Verteramo in conference rooms A and B of the Noble Family Dining Hall at noon, Kominkiewicz said.

According to Leonard Sanchez, professor of Specialist and Social Work, the events have something for everyone.

“There’s a social worker in everybody,” Sanchez said.

“Human relations, integrity, competence — it’s what our department is about, but it goes beyond that. We show how to give to each other and the community.”

Sanchez said the week is being held to encourage people to take action within the little time they have at Saint Mary’s.

“Four years may seem like a long time to the students, but it flies,” Sanchez said. “We teach that everyone can make a difference in the world, even if only a small difference. We aren’t trying to change the world all at once — just our little piece of South Bend.”

Sanchez said he hopes to show students they can make a difference, and that their “presence counts.”

“People want to do something, they just don’t know how. Social work week bridges that impossible gap,” Sanchez said.

Kominkiewicz said the importance of the event is for all students, but for the first years especially.

“First-year students find that they learn a great deal about Social Work as a major and as a profession. Feedback indicates that social work week was most helpful to them in deciding to become a social work major,” Kominkiewicz said.

All students are encouraged to attend the week’s events in an effort “to make Saint Mary’s stronger in the community,” Sanchez said. “It’s the little things you do for others that moves mountains.”