Amy Colver, LCSW
Melody Griffith, MSW, LMSW, OSW-C
AOSW Communications Director
Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of AOSW Newsletter, contact Amy Colver or Melody Griffith on the list above.
Director’s Report: Communications
We have been thinking a great deal lately, in AOSW's leadership group, about this question: Do you feel connected to the organization? As I near the end of my term as Communications Director, I find myself wondering whether or not we actually framed the question the right way. Is connection something you value, knowing that it means, on some level, a two-way relationship? Oncology social workers know a lot about self-care, teaching it to others all the time, and two-way streets require time and commitment. Who has time these days, and who still has energy for commitment? We are leery and guard our energies, for the sake of self-care. Maybe a good question then, for the curious, is to ask me how I'm feeling.
As I finish up three years in one of our more time-consuming roles, am I asking myself why I didn't have better boundaries and learn to say no? Am I concerned that I got too involved and didn't practice good self-care? Am I exhausted and vowing not to make the same mistake again in the future? Not exactly.
I'm gratified that the Communication Team is at the top of its game. Our website looks and functions beautifully. Our social media presence is strong. SWON is a robust platform to support your practice, and we have the new AOSW Navigator and OSW NewsBrief delivering information directly to your email box. So I'm feeling extremely proud of the positive changes I helped to create in the lives of others, extremely grateful for the many enduring friendships I developed, extremely humbled by the gifts of the talented people with whom I worked in common purpose—and very, very blessed to have been given an opportunity to leave a small legacy behind for the "next generation." Do these gifts ring a bell? They should, as I bet they are generally the same reasons you throw yourself into the most important roles you have in life, the ones where you give your time, and love, and creativity, and, yes, commitment.
We are never just consumers in our most valued life roles. One immutable law of the universe seems to be that we gain only in proportion to what we give. When you are nurtured by a role in life, the burden is easy and the yoke is light. That's AOSW volunteerism. You get so much more than you give, and connection to the organization ends up being but a secondary gain. The experience simply makes you a better social worker and a happier person. Yes, I gave some life energy to my various communications team roles over the years, but my AOSW colleagues saw me through the toughest time in my personal life, as my friends. AOSW work offered an opportunity to hone skills I cared about in a nonthreatening setting. It gave me a chance to write, share my passions, plan programs, and learn to manage a group when my day job was less than amenable to giving me these opportunities. Ultimately, these roles even opened new doors in my career. And every step of the way I only risked giving the time I was willing to give. No one ever backed me against a wall asking for more.
Calls for volunteers usually start with the writer talking about how the organization needs you. I've sent these announcements myself, probably many times, and there are many roles now that need filling. As I said earlier, however, from my current perspective I suspect I've been framing things the wrong way. Retrospectively, I needed AOSW a lot more than it needed me. The things I learned and the friends I made would not have happened otherwise, and those things are priceless to me now. You do have time for your own growth. You do have time to bring amazing colleagues into your life. You have time for AOSW service. It's not risking your healthy boundaries to strengthen the legacy you leave to the universe. It's making the most of your one fleeting and priceless life. And isn't that the powerful lesson we learn from the families we serve? Time is precious. Do everything you can while you're here. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, matters more.
Thank you, AOSW, for the marvelous experience this office has been, and to the amazing social workers of the Communications Team. I am privileged to count you as colleagues, mentors, and friends.