L O R R I E G R E E N H O U S E G A R D E L L A
I entered social work as a settlement house volunteer, where I enjoyed working with children of various ages and learning about social work with groups. I studied law and social work, and I served as a consultant in children’s law and as a social worker for adults with developmental disabilities, before beginning my career in social work education. As a professor and college administrator, I have sought to improve educational access for underserved populations. My basic understanding of social work practice arose from my early volunteer experiences: 1) the client comes first; 2) in children’s games, stop at the peak of interest; and 3) every person deserves a friend.
I chose coffee cup because …
… Many years ago, my father and I stopped on the way to work at the Oh Boy! Luncheonette, a tiny coffee shop in a down-at-heal industrial neighborhood. Every morning at 5:30 a.m., the same eight men were drinking coffee in the Oh Boy, exchanging jokes and barbs with red-haired waitress and with one another. They saw each other only there and then, but through the years, they had learned about each other’s families, jobs, hobbies, and milestones in life. When the owner’s daughter was married, they all attended the wedding. It was a naturally occurring group.
Today the Oh Boy! is gone, but a Jamaican grocery is thriving in its place. Perhaps the same dynamics apply. In various coffee shops and diners, regular customers take their customary places, sometimes talking with one another, sometimes just nodding hello, depending upon the ethos of the place. The moments of familiarity offer the possibility of belonging. We social workers create possibilities of belonging, where they might not otherwise occur.