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.
Finding a Professional Home
As I reflect on the 35th AOSW Conference in Tucson, Arizona, it takes me back to where I began my journey with AOSW and what I have come to hold as my professional home.
My first journey to an AOSW conference took me to Baltimore. There I heard about research, empowerment, strength and the future of what AOSW and oncology social work can be. In Seattle, with thanks to my mentor Debbie Mattison guiding me, I presented the “Wounded Healer: Healing Ourselves and Others” in the same time slot as the esteemed Richard Dickens. (In Tucson, both of us embraced and identified each other as the “other wounded healer.”) At the Tampa conference I was asked to join a panel of other amazing presenters to share about the wounded healer again. At the Denver conference, I had the honor of serving on the Planning Committee. This year in Tucson, I was the Conference Committee Chair, which started and finished in a whirlwind. Now I reflect on where I started my journey and how I found my professional home.
For me, AOSW has never been just an organization or a place to network. Year after year, it was a time to stretch my roots back into the ground, dig deeper, soak up and saturate in the knowledge, experience, growth, processes, and mutual respect and love from the members of the AOSW community. My goal as the committee chair was to create a space in Tucson where roots could go deeper, hold more, become saturated with all things possible in oncology social work.
I was struck by the connections the seasoned and new members made with one deep breath in a session led by Richard Dickens. And the excitement of hearing Matt Loscazo talk of what is to come in our professional awareness of each other! Dr. Carolyn Messner brought us together to identify our own compassion and how we continue to foster a sense of compassion for our personal and professional selves. Some of us gathered in research-focused CPIs, others explored the journey of their careers and what is next.
This time together was not only one of just shared memories or learning, but also a time to create what will be in the future as we continue to find our home at AOSW. Together our roots spread, went deeper, focused on ourselves professionally and personally. I hope that everyone who came felt a sense of home when they left.
As my journey with AOSW takes a pause for work, life and balance, my deepest love and mutual respect for our community will always be my professional home. I encourage all new and seasoned members to stay actively engaged in the community with which you bond. The mentor program was one of the beginnings of finding my home.
About the Author
Morgan Gonzales, MSW, LCSWAdjunct Professor
University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work