March is National Social Work Month—and we’re celebrating by profiling some of our amazing social workers.
Kimberly Amarante works as a case manager and family mentor at our Resource Center in Harlem. Amarante grew up in the Bronx but for a portion of her life lived in the Dominican Republic. She obtained a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from SUNY Oneonta but decided to pursue social work after college: “I felt that my community needed someone like me that was empathetic, compassionate, and willing to help no matter the circumstances.”
The Resource Center offers support with a wide variety of issues, from getting food stamps and disability benefits, to help with housing and legal problems. “Each individual comes to me with their own histories and struggles, and it’s all about being a listening ear,” she said. Amarante enjoys the challenges social work brings: “I thought I would be doing the same thing every day, assisting the clients the same way, but it ranges based on the case.”
Ruben Argueta is part of our social work team for Older Adults at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (LSNC). When Ruben was 11, he moved to the United States from Honduras; he is a DACA recipient. He attended school in Brooklyn and got accepted to CUNY Lehman College, where he earned a Bachelors of Psychology and is currently pursuing his Masters of Social Work. At first, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do straight out of college, but he knew he wanted to find work that served his community: “Unbeknownst to me, I feel that social work is the field that I was always meant to be in.”
Argueta’s work involves helping seniors navigate the benefits and resources available for them so they may live richer and more fulfilling lives. “My job goes beyond helping individuals obtain benefits, I believe I am making a significant impact by upholding the dignity of my clients and treating them with respect,” he said.
“Like Goddard’s mission statement states, we want to create possibilities where people are able to make dignified choices for themselves and their families,” he added. “This is why I enjoy what I do so much—I know that I’m making the world a better place, and I love it.”
Jeanne Lowe is the clinical director for our Education and Workforce Development program at the Isaacs Center. She grew up in Philadelphia and was inspired to get into social work by a therapist she had in high school. But she realized she wanted to go into community work, not one-on-one therapy, when she did a month-long program in college with a nonprofit agency on the island of Jamaica. “We were doing whatever they needed us to do. We dug a ditch, we helped at the local clinic, we hung out with kids,” she recalled. “So I ended up applying for a role with that nonprofit after graduating and spent 9 months there.”
Lowe says she likes working with young people because “They teach you things every day.” And she says the Isaacs Center is a great place to do it: “Honestly this has been the best nonprofit I’ve ever worked for. It’s a very healthy place where everyone is supported. Even when there’s some struggles we work to come back together and that’s all you can ask for.”