As the crabapple trees in my yard begin to burst into bloom, I write to you my final newsletter as your president. What a short yet strange trip it has been! Over the past two years, Marc and I have had the honor and privilege of representing you in the state Capitol, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and at our Annual Conference. Dafna and I had the distinct honor of representing you at Governor Evers’ budget address. Marc and I were privileged to meet with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and with the staffers of Wisconsin’s U.S. Congress members in our nation’s Capitol. NASW-WI has made strides with many of the state bills and legislative advocacy efforts we have engaged in. Although our work will never be done, we have much to be proud of. As of July, you will be in the trusted and distinctly qualified hands of our new president, Dawn Shelton Williams. I cannot wait to see what Dawn has in store for us.
At the time of this writing, we are all in the throes of an unprecedented time. The pandemic has changed the way we live our lives, and we will never be quite the same. Social work was built for these types of challenges. As I finish grading papers for our excited yet anxious graduating seniors at UW-Whitewater, I tell them with firm belief in my soul that they will be ok. Social work will never go out of style. Our field will continue to grow faster than most. We will continue to need social workers in health care facilities, in schools, in clinics, in human service agencies, in higher education, and yes, in the legislature. If you have ever considered running for public office, don’t sell yourself short or rule it out. Every time we hold NASW-WI Advocacy Day, we give important information to state legislators that truly appreciate the information; they have to serve as Jacks and Jills of all trades, and have little time to research the issues we bring to their attention. The halls of our state Capitol need to hear, regularly, the voices of social workers.
I have always been appreciative of the work that you do, but that appreciation has only grown in these trying times. My homework for you is to make a card for yourself, and to post it where you will see it every day. Tell yourself how important you are. You make the world a better place. On days when you don’t really feel it, read it to yourself. Scratch that: read it to yourself every day. You make the world a better place.
Are we going to save the world? Of course not.
Do the best you can.
This is one of my favorite sayings; it combines that sense of urgency I have in my gut with self-care. Don’t forget to put your oxygen mask on before you help someone put theirs on.
Is running for the NASW-WI board on your to-do list? I hope so. I wouldn’t trade all of the experiences I have had for the world. Serving as your president has motivated me even further to stay active, stay engaged, and stay involved. If serving on our board is not on your list, consider serving on one of our committees, sharing your expertise at our Annual Conference, or getting involved in one of our legislative advocacy projects. If you are a Social Work student, serve as a Student Ambassador on your campus.
Thank you for this ride. I am not going anywhere; I will continue to see you at our Annual Conferences, whether they be held in person or virtually. We will get through this time, and we will be stronger for it. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay engaged!
With sincere appreciation of all of the social workers of Wisconsin,
Kristi S. Wood, MSW, CAPSW