SSWA named Kimmel Leadership Center’s Student Organization of the Year

They handed out blankets to the homeless. They raised money for suicide prevention. And they collected donations for the Glen Carbon Food Pantry and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center.

For these reasons (and others), the Student Social Work Association (SSWA) was selected as the Kimmel Leadership Center’s 2013 Student Organization of the Year.

Catherine Dye, Master in Social Work (MSW) graduate student, was the SSWA president last year and said she was delighted the Social Work Department received the award.

“I’m excited for the department [of social work] to be recognized.” Dye said. “We did activities that were meaningful, and positively impacted our community, and to receive this award was like icing on the cake.”

Dye said the community outreach project that impacted her the most was “Collecting Bunches of Blankets,” in which SSWA members distributed blankets to the homeless in St. Louis.

“Going downtown and seeking out the homeless to distribute the blankets to was really gratifying,” Dye said. “Everyone was so appreciative. It was an awesome day.”

Social work professor Jerry O’Brien was the SSWA adviser last year and nominated the organization for the award.

“They did a wonderful job just doing a large variety of things,” O’Brien said, “and… I thought they put a great deal of effort into the group and into what they did and one of the things I also liked to see was that they involved the newer social work students [in] a lot [of] the activities.”

O’Brien said he was pleased that SSWA received the award because he thought the group “really deserved” it.

“I think it just is a good way to [show] social work is all about service,” O’Brien said. “It’s about being involved and so I think it demonstrates that those professional goals are important to us.”

Dye said the project ideas came about through a brainstorming session among SSWA officers, including Lacey Clemens-Friday (vice president), Lauren Brandt (treasurer) and Danielle Langston (secretary).

“It was a team effort from all the officers and the SSWA members,” Dye said. “We worked really well together and we tried to pick activities that would impact the local community in a positive way.”

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