March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize and appreciate the tireless efforts of social workers who dedicate themselves to making a positive impact in the lives of individuals and families. To commemorate this month, some of the incredible social workers at JCFS Chicago shared their motivation and passion for their careers. Each social worker has a specialty and area of expertise which is reflected across the agency.
Tami Sollo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Senior Clinician and Coordinator of the JCFS Divorce Specialty Center. “I’ve been a social worker for a long time – 13 years at JCFS alone. Since graduate school, I always wanted to save the world. That led me to want to work with people who particularly lacked access to professional help, so I decided social work was the right path for me,” says Tami. “It's a challenging but rewarding job. For me, it was about job satisfaction, and I certainly have that and continue to have that. You're also constantly learning; it's one of the things I still love about social work even though I've been doing it for such a long time.”
Hillary Manaster is an LCSW that works primarily with younger kids. “I really love getting to know the children and families that I work with. I feel like I learn as much from them as they're learning from working with me. Being able to partner with the parents to help their children is also an authentic way to get to know different families, and it's been really rewarding,” says Hillary. “If you want to be able to effect change within communities, there's so many different paths that you can take, but for me, working with families is where I really feel I am creating change on an individual level and empowering people to improve their lives.”
Bracha Jakofsky is an LCSW, Abuse Prevention & Mental Health Coordinator, and oversees the SMART Kids, an abuse prevention education program. “Pretty much everything that I've done so far in my career has been to bring awareness to certain topics. A big part of that is gaining the trust of the community you work with and teaching them that even though abuse is a topic that's uncomfortable, we're not going to shy away. We need to have these honest conversations so that we are protecting our kids,” says Bracha.
Leah Shefsky is an LCSW, Grief Specialist and Coordinator in the JCFS chaplaincy program. “I think people are often given the message that they need to grieve in a specific way. And that's obviously not how grief works,” says Leah. “I’ve learned to remind people that what is happening to you is normal, and grief comes in waves, it's not going to be a nice linear, pretty thing. And it gets easier, but you shouldn’t ever expect it to go away forever. It's much more of a matter of how we figure out how to fit it into our lives.”
Social work can be a fulfilling profession that requires a deep passion for helping others, a quality that JCFS social workers demonstrate every day through their work. Their common goal is to improve the lives of individuals, from counseling families with young children to educating people of all ages on abuse prevention. As we celebrate Social Work Month, we thank all social workers for their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to creating a better world for all.
JCFS Chicago provides counseling and psychological services; check out our website for more information. For help, call us at 855.275.5237 or email ASK@JCFS.org.