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Stories from the Field: Social Work Student Supports Non-profit Organization

When an individual commits to a social work education, they dedicate themselves to serving their community. Thousands of social work students throughout the United States engage in field work as part of their curriculum.

Over 170 Master of Social Work students at the Tulane University School of Social Work serve in 165 field agencies throughout the country. They use knowledge from the classroom to develop their practice skills in a professional setting under the supervision of experienced practitioners. Whether they are providing telecounseling, remotely supporting agencies, or doing direct service for nonprofits, Tulane students continue their field work.

"We are so proud of how our students are contributing to the collective efforts of agencies and organizations nationwide," says School of Social Work Dean Dr. Patrick Bordnick. "They have been creative and diligent in many valuable ways."

Here’s just one extraordinary example of how Tulane social work students are safely and effectively addressing the needs of our community during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelby Gelfand-Toutant is an intern with Broadmoor Improvement Association, a non-profit neighborhood organization that serves people who live, learn, work, worship, and play in the Broadmoor area of New Orleans.

BIA does this through a coordinated network of anchor institutions, faith-based partners, businesses, and community partners. BIA interns like Shelby work at community anchor sites to provide clinical and case management services to the community. They partner with Second Harvest and Broadmoor Community Church to operate the food pantry, First Presbyterian Church to provide case management services via Program of Hope to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and assist with SNAP sign ups and case management at the Rosa Keller Library.

“We utilize the intersection of clinical and case management skills and techniques to serve the whole person,” says Shelby.

The mechanisms of their work have changed significantly in the past two weeks to be responsive to the community. They have discontinued face-to-face meetings with clients at Program of Hope and the library to support social distancing; however, they are conducting remote case management by phone and email order to continue services.

The food pantry has modified procedures to ensure social distancing requirements and maximize the number of clients served during distribution times. Volunteers, including classmates from TSSW, pack food for families in grab and go boxes and are currently phone banking the neighborhood to reach housebound or high-risk clients who cannot come to the pantry.

According to Shelby, BIA is an excellent space to learn and grow as a social worker due to the wide variety of clinical, case management, and advocacy experiences. BIA interns have used the TSSW and their other networks to mobilize volunteers for the pantry as well as to distribute information about services to other interns who have been sharing it with their clients.

“The value interns bring to the BIA has always been great, and especially during this public health crisis, our work is critical to maintaining service to our community,” says Shelby.

Tulane and Southern University of New Orleans social work students along with counseling students from Loyola University and University of Holy Cross are significantly contributing to plans that support Broadmoor residents and community members across the city. They are on the front lines of connecting people to resources to meet their mental health and essential needs during this time. The reach and impact of the BIA is increased exponentially with the work and dedication of student interns.

Find more information about BIA’s services and how you can support the organization at www.broadmoorimprovement.com