March is Social Worker Appreciation month across US communities. We recognize the vital role of social workers in our communities, and we celebrate them every day at NVFS. Social workers work in various settings daily, including schools, hospitals, government agencies, and non-profits such as Northern Virginia Family Services.
Before meeting the NVFS heroes, it’s important to review the role of social workers.
The Role of Social Workers in Our Community
Social workers are professionals who work with individuals, families, groups, and communities to help them address a wide range of challenges and issues. Their work is focused on improving the well-being and quality of life of their clients.
Here are some of the typical tasks that social workers may perform at NVFS:
- Assessing client needs
- Developing care plans
- Providing counseling
- Connecting clients with resources
- Advocating for clients
- Evaluating progress
Overall, social workers play a vital role in helping individuals and Northern Virginia communities overcome challenges and build better lives.
Meet the Heroes – Social Workers In Our Community
During Social Worker Appreciation Month, we sit down with three NVFS social workers. It’s essential to recognize the dedication and commitment each has to their clients and the diverse communities in Northern Virginia.
Each often works in challenging situations, but they are committed to positively impacting the lives of the people that NVFS serves. Meet Crystal Pitt, Megan Mauk, and Leslie Salguero.
Here are their stories…
Crystal Pitt, Director of Homeless Services
NVFS: What made you decide to become a social worker?
Crystal: “For many years, I was able to be a witness to the way in which my parents poured love and compassion into the community. They were always more than willing to help other family members, friends, and strangers with basic necessities of life and extend an olive branch to provide sustainability into others’ lives. Seeing them giving to mankind on a daily basis initiated the same passion in me.”
NVFS: There are many places in our region in need of social workers; why did you choose to work at Northern Virginia Family Service?
Crystal: “I chose NVFS because the organization’s mission aligned with the work that I wanted to do, and it gave me the ability to be strategic and creative in applying modern approaches to end and prevent homelessness.”
NVFS: In recent years, we know that Northern Virginia has seen an increase in the number of those that need housing assistance. Tell us about what the Director of Homeless Services at NVFS entails.
Crystal: “Each program in the Homeless Services Service Area is designed to end and prevent homelessness by helping individuals and families reach self-sufficiency. We assist individuals and families, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, by providing housing, rental assistance, supportive services, and congregate shelter to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability.”
NVFS: We can tell that you love being a social worker and assisting the homeless in our region. Tell us what you love about your job.
Crystal: “I love the ability to feel the sense of giving back to the community and being able to meet a person/family where they are and helping them in their journey towards thriving in the community. Also, I like the ability to make change with a multi-systems level thinking approach and advocate on a micro, mezzo, and macro level.”
Megan Mauk, NVFS Social Worker
NVFS: Megan, when did you know you wanted to become a social worker?
Megan: “I was working in a hospital and saw the great work social workers were doing and realized that I wanted to make the impact on people’s lives that they were.”
NVFS: How did you learn about the wide range of services offered at NVFS, and why did you decide to join our team?
Megan: “A dear friend of mine from graduate school worked at NVFS, and she connected me with Sharon Frost, the former director of the NVFS Therapeutic Foster Care program. Once I met Sharon and the team, I knew NVFS was where I wanted to be. It was a smart, kind, and dedicated group of professionals.”
NVFS: What does your job entail at NVFS? Tell us about your day.
Megan: “Now I work in the Healthy Families program at the Reston location. I supervise a group of four staff with over 70 years of combined experience in the program. We work with families from pregnancy through the child’s third birthday and work together to learn about the child’s unique needs, focusing on parent-child interaction, attachment, and development.”
NVFS: We are glad that you joined the team at NVFS. Tell us what you love about being a social worker.
Megan: “I love being an advocate for change and feeling like I’ve made a positive difference in someone else’s day/year/life.”
NVFS: Thank you for sitting down with us today. Anything else that you would like to add?
Megan: “I have learned so much from my supervisors and staff at NVFS; I could not be more grateful for the experiences I have had as part of the team.”
Leslie Salguero, MSW Mental Health Counselor
NVFS: Almost daily, we see the mental health struggles of those in Northern Virginia play out in news stories and on social media. What made you decide to become a social worker emphasizing mental health?
Leslie: “I’ve always had a passion for supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence and searched for a way to make a career of that passion. I didn’t realize social work would be that road for me until I worked alongside social workers at a domestic violence shelter. There I was able to witness firsthand the levels of support in which social workers play a role. From counseling to case management and even policy change, social work has allowed me to advocate for survivors in a multitude of ways.”
NVFS: Indeed, the role of social workers in our community is invaluable. Why did you choose to work at NVFS?
Leslie: “I have the opportunity to work directly with the immigrant population, and as a first-generation Guatemalan American, I was compelled to give back to my community and provide information about resources and how to navigate the systems that I often saw my parents and other family members struggle with.”
NVFS: Tell us about your job as a mental health counselor at NVFS, as you help the youth of our community.
Leslie: “As a mental health counselor, I provide direct services to youth ages 6-21. Those services are individual, in group settings, or as larger presentations through workshops. Although our clients are the children/adolescents referred, more often than not, we work with parents, siblings, and guardians to create stronger relationships within family systems.”
Thank you, Crystal, Megan, and Leslie, for sitting down with us today to talk about the critical role of social workers in our community.
How can you show appreciation to Social Workers in your Community?
There are many ways to show appreciation to our community’s social workers this month and every day. Here are just three ways to show appreciation:
- Sharing the stories of their impact on social media.
- Volunteering time and resources to support their work.
- Acknowledge their efforts in person.
By recognizing social workers’ vital role in our community, we can create a culture of appreciation and support for their necessary work.