The Role of Social Workers in our Northern Virginia Community

March marks a special time across the United States, celebrated as Social Work Month. It’s a period dedicated to acknowledging and honoring social workers’ profound impact on the communities of Northern Virginia and beyond. At Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), celebrating these unsung heroes is a monthly occurrence and a daily gratitude practice. Their tireless efforts span various settings, including schools, hospitals, government entities, and nonprofits like NVFS, making their role indispensable in our society.

Understanding the Role of Social Workers

The role of social workers in our community cannot be overstated. These professionals are at the forefront of addressing many challenges individuals, families, and groups face, aiming to enhance well-being and quality of life. Their tasks include, but are not limited to:

– Assessing client needs to understand their situations better.

– Developing tailored care plans that outline steps to improvement.

– Providing counseling to navigate emotional or psychological challenges.

– Connecting clients with vital resources, from housing to healthcare.

– Advocating for clients’ rights and needs within the system.

– Evaluating progress to ensure the effectiveness of interventions.

This holistic approach underscores social workers’ vital role in helping Northern Virginia community overcome obstacles and achieve better futures.

Meet the NVFS Social Workers

Social workers are the backbone of societal improvement and empowerment. The dynamic nature of social work means all days are different. Social workers adapt to the needs of their clientele, whether that involves outreach in shelters and parks for those experiencing homelessness or navigating the intricacies of child welfare. Their dedication to building connections and advocating for change is a testament to their passion and commitment to their profession.

Meet some of the dedicated NVFS social workers and hear about their dedication in their own words:

Jossy Santos, MSW, tells us why she became a social worker:

“I think being able to empathize for others who may be struggling, and being able to help in some way or form nurtures my need to help others. I also love being able to meet so many people in the community. I think talking about mental health is very important and to be able to share information is fun because I love talking about mental health.”



Katie Spence on what she loves about being a social worker for NVFS:

“I’ve been to our shelter and seen firsthand the impact all of our programs have had on the individuals that need us. It’s rewarding knowing that you are impacting individuals’ lives and helping them gain self-sufficiency.”



Julia Oakley, LCSW, on her multifaceted job with NVFS and the value it adds to the community:

“My job is one part delivering mental health therapy to the underserved immigrant population, one part offering clinical supervision to pre-licensed social workers and social work students, and one part coordinating the day-to-day aspects of the Program for Survivors of Torture and Severe Trauma. I love that I can lean into the variety and challenges that come with this job. Clinically, my area of focus is on helping survivors of torture to heal and meet their goals for moving forward with their lives. Because I speak French, I have the privilege of working with survivors mostly from the Great Lakes region of Africa or Western Africa.”

Meg King, MSW, tells us what it is like to be a Group Coordinator for the NVFS Youth Initiatives program:

“As a Groups Coordinator, I help schedule groups and workshops between Youth Initiatives and school partners. I also facilitate those groups and workshops with my coworkers on the YI mental health team. I am a therapeutic case manager for VPIP/FRP and Aspire/TVAP. I provide direct services to recently arrived and first-generation youth and their families, improving their ability to access community resources.”


Celebrating Our Heroes: The Social Workers of NVFS

As we observe Social Work Month, it’s crucial to spotlight the dedication and commitment of NVFS social workers. Their diverse expertise and unwavering support for their clients are invaluable to our Northern Virginia community. Here are ways we can all show appreciation for these indispensable community pillars:

  • Share stories of their impact on social media to highlight their contributions.
  • Volunteer time and resources to bolster their initiatives and programs.
  • Offer acknowledgments in person to affirm their invaluable work.

Creating a culture of appreciation for social workers fosters an environment where their essential work is continuously supported and recognized.

Empowering Northern Virginia: The Everyday Heroism of Social Workers

The Role of Social Workers in Northern Virginia is multifaceted and indispensable. Their efforts not only address immediate needs but also foster long-term societal change. This March, as we celebrate Social Work Month, let’s remember the profound difference these professionals make in our lives and communities daily. Through recognition, support, and collaboration, we can ensure their vital work continues to uplift and empower our neighbors for years to come.