Supporting Social Work Students at BFC
March 20, 2018 by BFC
Guest Author: Brittany Pope
Bread for the City’s social workers are committed to supporting the training and education of tomorrow’s social work leaders. To that end, we proudly serve as a field education site for several Schools of Social Work, including Catholic University, Howard University, University of the District of Columbia, University of Maryland, and Smith College. Currently, we are hosting five Social Work student interns who are getting their Bachelors or Masters’ degrees in Social Work. Those students commit to working and learning at BFC 2-4 days a week for an academic year, and we commit to providing hands-on experiences and education so they can link their classroom knowledge to real world practice. It is a powerful experience for students, supervisors, and clients alike, and BFC is grateful to have the opportunity to work with such talented people.
One of our current students is Brittany Pope. Here’s a bit about her life and experience at BFC. Thanks, Brittany!
As a native Washingtonian, I have watched the dramatic changes to our city over the years. Despite the rapid development, shifts in demographics, and evolving neighborhoods, I have always been aware of the disparity between the DC that everyone knows— a city of power and influence, of politics and transience— and the DC that one would know only by living in and fully experiencing the city. Amid the symbols of power, there are communities in the city that need attention and support.
Public service has always been an important part of my life. For me, volunteering in my hometown has been a way to show my appreciation for the city that has taught me so much about community and resilience. Serving as an AmeriCorps member solidified my commitment to public service, and motivated me to pursue a Masters in Social Work from Catholic University. When it became time to explore possible internships, I knew from a previous visit to Bread for the City and through encouragement by my advisor that Bread would be my top choice.
From my first day as an intern, I could feel BFC’s dedication to service and social justice for its clients. My fellow interns and I participated in orientation, learning about the various programs provided at BFC and its commitment to racial equity, as well as practicing skills to best serve the clients. My time as a Social Services intern has given me insight into the many ways BFC works with the community. The Housing Access Program (HAP) has opened my eyes to the struggle to find “affordable” housing in a city with rising housing costs. It has been wonderful assisting and learning about how the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) program helps eliminate barriers for those applying for SSI/SSDI benefits. Working with the Representative Payee clients as they create and accomplish personal goals has been a rewarding task this year as well.
I believe that BFC’s approach of direct service paired with community level advocacy is an effective way to address the needs of the community, empower clients, and challenge social injustice. In my opinion, social workers are most effective when they use their skills to tackle issues of oppression at both the ground level and root level, addressing immediate needs of clients while advocating for systemic social change. I’m inspired by how BFC weaves its key values— dignity, respect, service, and justice— into each of its departments, truly embodying both the core social work values and my personal values of client empowerment and social change. As our community continues to grow and change, organizations like Bread are so necessary in supporting and empowering those who might feel left behind.
I’ve appreciated my time at Bread for the City as a student intern. From the guidance I’ve received from our social work mentors, to the opportunity to apply theory and practice skills during my interactions with clients, and I will carry these valuable skills with me as I continue my journey of becoming a social worker. Happy National Social Work Month!
Bread for the City’s Social Services work is made possible via support from the DC Department of Behavioral Health, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Jack R. Anderson Foundation, and supporters like you.