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Social Work Student Takes Food Pantry on the Road

UB social work student Matthew Schwartz is turning the tables on traditional food pantries, providing food directly to the hungry out of the trunk of his car. Schwartz, 31, works as a case manager for Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, and he noticed that many of his clients were struggling to access food pantries. “I was working with some child survivors of the Holocaust and also my general community, and I saw one of the food pantry things,” Schwartz says, referring to a list of requirements for those wishing to access a food pantry. “I looked at it and I thought ‘this is so ridiculous the amount of information they’re requesting.’” Food pantries can require a variety of inf

CLOSEUP: Mental health workers, cops join forces

Brandy Sand’s first night on the street was a tough one. On July 2, the social worker wrapped herself in a bullet-proof vest and started her initial shift. She was teamed with a Niagara Regional Police officer as part of what is known as the NRP’s Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team. That night ended with two NRP officers suffering gunshot wounds in rural Pelham. One of the officers was shot through the neck and was lucky to survive. She wasn’t part of the call. It wasn’t in her coverage zone. However, the cops were dispatched to assist a man with mental health issues — and that’s her specialty. “The reality hit me that I’m in a cruiser with front-line officers, and there is the potential for

In Philadelphia, healing Trauma is intense, difficult work: Pathways to Peace

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania--Tony Thompson and Shardae Wescott spend their days with some of the most desperate, angry, frightened and traumatized young men in this city. As social workers for Healing Hurt People, their job is to help victims of violence understand the mental and emotional toll of their injuries and to help them heal without more violence. It's intense, difficult work. Most people, even others in their field, don't understand what they do. Most social workers don't visit their clients at home in neighborhoods where even those clients fear for their lives, or talk them out of settling scores with guns. Thompson and Westcott each works with about 25 clients at a time, primarily

Isolation Seen as Critical Social Problem

A child claims to feel sick to avoid going to school. A man with a chronic illness is not taking his medications because there is no one to take him to the pharmacy. An older woman living alone becomes depressed because she has no one to talk to. These scenarios illustrate some of the effects of social isolation, and also show it is not just older people who experience it. In fact, social isolation can take a toll at any stage of life, said James Lubben, MSW, who also has a Ph.D. in social welfare. “Isolation is something that occurs throughout the life course; infants, teens, adults,” said Lubben, inaugural holder of the Louise McMahon Ahern Chair in Social Work at Boston College, founding

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