March is National Social Work Month and Phipps Neighborhoods would like to spotlight some of the fantastic social workers helping our communities rise above poverty. This week, we introduce you to Joseph Washington, Program Director at Honeywell Supportive Housing, which serves mentally ill and formerly homeless men.
“I have the fortunate opportunity to work in the same neighborhood that I grew up and went to school in. As a youth, it was not always easy to stay away from negative influences. There were gangs, drugs, and other vices to corrupt young folks. I was introduced to trouble as a teen, and after getting into a couple of situations with the authorities, I was assigned a social worker by the name of Mr. Al Martin. He turned my life around. With his help I enrolled at Bronx Community College and received a certificate in carpentry and a GED.”
Joseph switched careers from construction to human services in 1990 when he started working as an outreach worker for mentally ill homeless adults, the population he still serves today, and found what he truly was meant to do with his life. During his social work career, Joseph has worked as a counselor for substance abusers, homeless individuals, families suffering from domestic abuse, senior citizens, and veterans.
“I believe to be an effective social worker you have to be multi-cultural, non-judgmental, practice value suspension and be empathetic to those we serve. The populations we work with have many issues with multiple causes, and to best serve them we need to think outside of the box and draw from a diverse reservoir of experiences. Social workers are a lifeline to services and resources. We are liaisons to external and internal resources, educators, and agents of social justice.”