Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I recently came back from a vacation in Mexico, where I was paying close attention to the way other peoples relate to each other.  This is a fascination of mine: watching other people: how they talk to each other; their eye contact; the use of their hand gestures and their body language; observing their eye contact; viewing their physical connections or lack of connectedness..

I want to share three short observances with you and relate them to the world of social work. I was wandering around in Merida, the Capital of the state of Yucatan, studying the architecture of the residential and commercial buildings and working up an appetite. I saw a sign that indicated I was heading in the direction of what looked like a great supermarket.

The first thing I noticed as I walked through the parking lot to reaching the front door of the market was the signs indicating reserved parking spots.  There was the usual sign of a wheel chair which was similar to the sign we have in the states that indicates these spaces are reserved for handicapped folks.  Then right next to the wheel chair sign was a sign indicating “Reservado  Futuros Mamas” featuring a lady with a very big belly. I thought that was really neat.  How thoughtful!  Then just inside the front door was a nice lady wearing an apron and hair net who walked right up to me to inquire,”Puedo ayudarle?”—even before I asked for help.  Lastly, there were all the ‘empleados” in the bakery section who were  wearing hair nets and what looked like surgical masks over their mouths and noses who also stopped what they were doing  to, again ask, “Puedo ayudale?”

Now, you may say, ‘What is so special about all this?  There are folks at Walmart who welcome customers and Home Depot.’

Well, perhaps it is not so distinctive, but rather a reminder to me and the entire NASW staff at the chapter office of our priorities.  First, as a membership organization we are here to serve you, our members. No other organization has the interests of social workers as its primary focus.  At the same time, we are here to advocate for just social and economic programs and policies for all. The Social Work profession has this dual focus. As the Executive Director of  the 4th largest NASW Chapter in the country, I am reaffirming our Chapter’s commitment to serve you, our members. Please be assured that when you call the Chapter office, you will receive our undivided attention to your issue.  And please call.  Call often. Tell us what you need, what you like, what we could do better, what you would like us to do that we are not now doing.  We take every call seriously.


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