UBSSW presents Day in the Life of Community Social Worker Greer Hamilton

UBSSW presents Day in the Life of Community Social Worker Greer Hamilton


My name is Greer Hamilton and I work for the
Mobile Safety-Net Team, which is a basic human needs initiative of the John R. Oishei foundation. I started seeing a social worker in high school
after my parents’ separation, and so it gave me a really positive experience with
social work. And when talking with my social worker she
thought it would be a really good job for me because it combined my interest in mental
health as well as working with community members. So, I changed my career path the summer before
I went to college. The only context I had for a social worker
was a school social worker, so I didn’t fully have an idea of what like community
work would look like for a social work. So, I started volunteering as often as I could
in college so that I could get more experience with Buffalo and different people living here,
and then I realized that I could also be interested in advocacy work and policy work in social
work, which now kind of brought me to the work I’m doing both at the NASW and at my
job doing coalition building. I try to help people do community based change
to alleviate poverty. So that means that I schedule meetings with
different organizations and individuals to learn more about what they’re interested
in working on, I plan events, I promote different organizations and their missions, I also try
to develop action plans that will exist beyond my time at my job. So, I start work typically at 7:30. By 8:00 usually my other coworkers are in,
so we are a team of three, so my coworkers Annie and Natalie are generally in the office
by then. We usually catch up about what each other
did the evening before or meeting that we’re all going to together that day. And then depending on the day I’m either
in the office all day or I’m at meetings. So, typically if it’s a meeting day I have
one or more meetings that are about an hour or an hour and a half. I have two coalitions that I facilitate, one
in Newfane and one in North Tonawanda. So typically, I spend a bulk of my day in
either of those communities working with the residents and organizations on the coalition
itself or related projects. Our initiative uses a framework called collective
impact. And so, for our coalitions myself and my coworkers
act as facilitators which means that we schedule meetings, we develop agendas, and we work
with the coalition members to develop action oriented items to work on. We are going to be doing the North Tonawanda
coalition this week and talking about the summer kick-off event. North Tonawanda, because of regional transportation
issues, has expressed interest in providing residents that are near or below the poverty
level with ability to access services on a regular and consistent basis. So, how we do that is by running a project
that we called the HUB. And we provide residents with at least 30
organizations where they can learn about the services they offer or enroll in that service. So, it’s an evening event, so we’ll be
asking people to volunteer to help with intake forms, to help set up tables. Really just kind of planning out what it is
we need to do to make the event run effectively. I think I am making somewhat of a difference
in the work I’m doing. I think I’m not able to see the difference
I’m making because alleviating poverty is a long-term thing. So sometimes that is a little disheartening,
because you want to see the immediacy of your work in front of you but I do think that that’s
one reason a) I continue to do this job but also b) it’s kind of shaping the next iteration
of my social work career because it’s showing me that we have to have conversations about
equity in our work. For me, whatever work I do after this job
has to include economic and racial equity because I think poverty is systemic and so
in order to actually effectively alleviate poverty I have to be able to work on issues
of equity. So, I do think I’m making a difference,
just not always how I think the difference should be made.

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