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Common Life

Updated: Nov 28, 2018

“Why do you want to be a social worker?” I asked my student intern. “Because when I was in high school my life was falling apart, and the school social worker was the one person that got me through. I’ll never be able to repay her for that, but I can try to do that for somebody else” she answered.  My student inspired me that day. She helped me to remember why the work done by social workers is so important, and the lasting impact it can have on others. March is Social Work Awareness Month and I am so pleased that it coincides with the launch of the new Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services website. Whether you call it social work, clinical counseling, or group work, the goal is the same; to come alongside others and help create safe passage as they make their way on to the next step. As an agency, I believe one of our greatest strengths is our community-based approach that translates into meeting and serving people wherever we find them – literally and figuratively.  In one week, our staff may provide services in homes, schools, libraries, court houses, fast food restaurants or police stations. We are in all of those locations because that’s where we find people who need our services. This type of service delivery is exactly what made the difference for my student intern all those years ago when she was in high school.

Social Work Awareness Month began in 1966, but the social work tradition goes back much further. Jane Addams, social work pioneer and founder of the settlement house movement, championed this sentiment of going where the people are when she said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life”. She understood that “common life” was found outside of office buildings and institutions, and instead resided in the communities and neighborhoods that make up our villages, towns, and cities. That understanding continues to animate our services today.  As an organization, we are committed to positively impacting the “common life”. Much of our work is focused on adolescents and their families, and working to promote safe, caring, and positive relationships between family members. This provides the foundation necessary for everyone to fully participate and benefit from the “common life”.

So as we celebrate both Social Work Awareness Month and the launch of the new NEDFYS website this March, we will also celebrate the diverse and vibrant communities that contribute so beautifully to our common life together.


Vivica Odell, MSW, LCSW

NEDFYS Associate Director for Clinical Services

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