The Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) continues to be very busy carrying out initiatives that enhance the lives of individuals, families and communities. We’re very pleased that we were able to hire a second outreach social worker in August. Both Rajean and Shelina are valuable assets to the organization and keep busy developing and implementing programs, seeking funding, conducting training, and providing counselling. The Project Coordinators report provides information on the various initiatives that we have been engaged in as well as the report on the Out of the Shadows and the Gambling Initiatives included in your AGM booklet. In addition, ABSW has been busy carrying out the following annual activities:
We continue to provide social work students a work placement. This proves to be an invaluable placement for students who are able to obtain vast experiences in the areas of community development, child welfare, mental health, addictions, seniors etc.
Our 35th Anniversary was a huge success with over 200 participants attending. We held workshops on children & youth, racism, justice, spirituality, health, family preservation, human rights, child welfare, mental health and addictions Dr. Chike Jeffers spoke on how Race and Culture Matter at the closing Harambee Celebration. It was a wonderful way to close out the three days of learning, connecting and sharing.
Thanks to the assistance of a co-op student, we launched our Facebook page. We use our website and FB to keep the public updated on our events.
Throughout the year ABSW members are asked to sit on various community organizations and committees to provide their input. Some of the committees are: the NS Association of Social Workers, the School of Social Work Advisory Committee, the School of Social Work Alumni, the Provincial Early Years Partnership, Evaluation Committee for Souls Strong and Ceasefire, the African Canadian Health Network to name a few.
A review of our Senior Tea and Social determined that due we will move the date from February to April when the weather makes it easier for the seniors to get around. In December 2014 we launched our healthy recipe book in which many of our seniors contributed their favourite receipts. Be sure to obtain your copy before they are gone as the books are at limited supply.
Due to a difference of understanding, we are considering our affiliation with the National Association of Black Social Workers. Our members will decide our outcome in the coming months.
We are pleased to be partnering with NSASW in planning the 2015th annual conference. The theme ‘Culturally Engaging Social Work: Linking Practice, Policy and Research’ will not only inspire the conference participants but challenge them to be more culturally competent in their workplace.
In closing, I thank those who continually stand behind ABSW and are available to help out wherever needed. A special thanks goes to Rajean & Shelina who are able to juggle the many demands on their time and still manage to smile every day. As well, a huge thanks goes to Joanna Pugh our external bookkeeper for keeping us on track with our finances and always having things prepared for us each meeting. Thanks so much for taking us on, in spite of your busy workload. Lastly, thanks to Tina Roberts-Jeffers for assisting us with our grant applications. We enjoy working with Tina and her patience with us and understanding of social issues makes our job much easier.
My recommendation for coming year is to:
Conduct a survey for inactive members inquiring of what is required to engage them with ABSW activities.
Conduct a strategic planning session to determine the directions ABSW wishes to undertake.
Humbly Submitted by Veronica Marsman, MSW, RSW
ABSW OFFICE REPORT
January 2014 – July 2014
This year has been a year of transition in the ABSW office. We have had the pleasure of having an additional full-time social work position through the aid of receiving external granted funds for various projects through government and community grant programs. We were also able to hire a part-time social worker, Elizabeth Dantzler, to lead one of our major Mental Health & Addictions projects, funded by the Department of Health & Wellness, which then lead to full-time with the granting of funds for our second major Gambling project, funded by Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia.
The second social work position has been an evolving position over the past year as it has encountered some changes in who has held it. Upon the completion of Judith Awori’s placement, it was recognized that the Outreach Social Worker’s work tasks were becoming greater than one person could accomplish within the required timelines. Given the financial position that we were in with the success of many grant applications, we were able to hire Judith in this position for four months until she had to relocate for school purposes. With a second position, we were able to: Manage much of the conference planning from the office; Attend more meetings in various fields of interest; Continue with our core programming, training/facilitation, community supports and office administrative duties; Increase in promotional materials such as our website; and Development of more proposals for ABSW and Akoma. Much of Judith’s tasks involved the Conference organization. Although Judith had to leave, this model worked well for the time that she was with us that it only made sense to think about succession planning.
While in the midst of succession planning for the second social work position, Elizabeth, our Mental Health & Addictions project(s) social worker, also had to leave as she was successful in gaining full-time employment at another organization. With two positions available to fill as soon as possible, things were quite hectic in the office and we had to move quickly. During this time, we are thankful to a number of ABSW members who stepped in to help out with many of our initiatives such as S.EA.R.C.H and the Family Learning Initiative.
In August 2014, I had the opportunity to transition in to the Mental Health and Addictions Project(s) Coordinator role. Fortunately enough, I was able to also complete my Masters of Social Work field placement within my place of employment and with this work being something I had not had exposure to previous, it worked out perfect. I very much enjoyed doing my placement in this role learning more about this area and look forward to this year’s upcoming mini talk show series, which I will be hosting on Eastlink Community TV.
Upon my transition, we have had the pleasure of hiring Ms. Shelina Gordon, as the primary Outreach Social Worker. Shelina has been transitioning very well into the new position and brings a great knowledge around health and wellness as well as significant networking system. Although, I am in a new role, I also serve as an Outreach Social Worker in the office where tasks and time permit. The second half of this report will be written by Shelina.
In partnership with the Akoma Family Centre we had a total of 15 proposals submitted with a total of 11 that were accepted and approved (including contract projects) for close to $165,000.00.
Having a website has been very beneficial for us and it is continuously updated!
August 2014 – December 2014
As I prepare this report I’m incredible grateful for this journey thus far. Joining ABSW in in the midst of conference planning in August was overwhelming to say the least. However, the ongoing support and encouragement I receive daily has made the transition much easier. I’ve had the opportunity to expand my professional skills set through ongoing work with students enrolled in the African Canadian Transition Option (ACTO) at the NSCC Akerley, and additionally through ongoing work with community based groups such as Souls Strong. In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to further establish the counselling skills I developed while working in Neurosurgery with patients suffering from Acquired Brain Injuries or Spinal Cord Injuries
ABSW continues to partner with community based organizations to deliver Africentric Orientation Training Sessions and interest in this training continues to grow among non-ANS organizations. Additionally, ABSW continues to explore community based partnerships with organizations such as the John Howard Association, a small not-for-profit organization that supports those who have come into conflict with the law, or who are at risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system.
For the second year, ABSW will be working with the East Preston Daycare to develop Learning Together, a reading support program for parents and children. We are also continuing to work with African Nova Scotia Affairs to deliver the Intergenerational Dance Program. This year the program will feature a different style of dance and drumming associated with Burundi drummers.
Post Conference, ABSW continues to express interest in continuing to deliver educational workshops around sexualized violence in the ANS communities, and has recently applied for the Dartmouth Community Health Board’s Community Development Fund for financial support in developing and implementing these workshops; an additional application will be made to the Southeastern Community Health Board for the November 3rd deadline.
For the second annual year, ABSW has partnered with the Striving to Build African Nova Scotian Health Professionals and hosted two events in Dartmouth and Halifax, Thursday November 6th 10-12 and Thursday November 13th 10-12 respectively. These events catered to ANS students in grades 8-11 who are considering a career in the health professions. Additionally, I continue to work closely with members of the Striving organizing committee and my colleagues at Capital Health as an advisor for the Diversity Bursary Committee. This committee is charged with developing and implementing Capital Health’s first annual diversity bursary geared towards students currently enrolled in the health professions and who identify as members of the four groups identified in Capital Health’s 2010 workplace diversity survey. The four groups consist of African Nova Scotian, First Nations, Immigrants and Persons with disabilities.
Finally, ABSW has hosted two very exciting events on Tuesday December 2, 2014, a Chronic Disease Management: New Pathways for African Canadians, a by invite only workshop for facilitated by Dr. Wanda’s daughter Candace Roker. This event was sponsored by Capital Health, ABSW and HAAC and the launch of our first cookbook Creating Good Food. The evening allowed community members to engage with cookbook contributors while sampling several selections.
As I look forward to the year ahead, I believe ABSW will continue to engage the African Nova Scotian Community through a number of new initiatives.