A Vision for Improving the Image of Social Work

25 Jun

By Erin Michel

NASW Ohio Chapter Education Coordinator

I have told this story before, but it never ceases to amaze me how this project unfolded. In a staff meeting at NASW, we were talking about how to change the image of social work so that it better reflected who we are and what we do. Someone suggested perhaps a video we can share with others would help communicate this message. I had a vision of the messages I wanted others to know about social work and those we serve.

The day before this meeting, I read an article in Ohio State’s Lantern newspaper about Harry Locke, a student who had made two full-length films. I remembered the article so well because he was from the South Side of Chicago, which is my favorite city. By chance, I kept the newspaper in my bag after reading it, and when I pulled it out during the meeting, I reread the statement given by his best friend Walter, “When it comes to people being driven and needing to get something done, you really couldn’t find anyone better to have in your corner.”

Harry Locke and Erin Michel celebrate after the premiere of the film "Moving Our World Forward"

I took this as more than a coincidence and contacted Harry to work on a film project, which I had yet to develop a plan for. Thankfully, it didn’t take much convincing and Harry agreed to help me produce this film. I took Walter’s word for it, and he surely was right about Harry.I knew I only had two more quarters left in graduate school, so this project had to be put on a tight timeline with clear goals and objectives. I also knew I would need to fund this project somehow. Thankfully, very generous people at several universities and colleges throughout the state of Ohio supported this film project and my vision.

In addition to interviewing social workers in Columbus for several weeks, we traveled to Cleveland over spring break and to Cincinnati the following Friday. This project had several phases, fundraising, grant writing, contacting participants, traveling to interviews, composing the content of the film, and organizing the premiere screening. Looking back on this experience, it is astounding to me to realize that all of this was completed in less than six months.

What amazes me the most is that despite a few minor setbacks, the process of creating Moving Our World Forward met the benchmarks we set for it and the vision I started with was captured in the final product.

I am very grateful for this experience, which was possible through the support at the National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter.

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