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March celebrates the profession of social work


During the month of March the National Association of Social Workers ( and the local chapter celebrates National Social Work Month ( The profession of social work has a history which began with the humanitarian efforts of Protestant denominations mainly in England and the United States.
The early efforts were considered urban missionary work to resolve problems in large cities such as New York and London. The large influx of people during the 19th century in to these large urban centers was creating problems of poverty, prostitution, and disease. In the United States these early efforts were known as the Settlement House Movement. The person created as being most influential in the movement was Jane Addams who established the Hull House. The Hull House was founded by Addams to help overcome poverty by focusing on the causes through what was known as the three R’s; research, reform, and residence.
Soon many schools of social work were opened to train individuals. They were the forerunners of such programs as the Schools of Social Work at the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and locally Alabama A&M University.
Other early social workers were Florence Kelly, Mary McDowall, Lillian Ward, Robert Hunter, Edward Devine, James West, and Homer Folks. They were joined by workers who began their careers in the settlements but then moved into public service in the 1920s. Some of the most notable were poised to aid Franklin Roosevelt during his presidency during the Great Depression. These were Harry Hopkins, Frances Perkins, Molly Dewson, and Aubrey Williams. These later days’ social work professionals were also instrumental in overcoming the public’s previously low opinion of the social work profession.
There are a large number of social workers employed in the public and private sector in Madison County.  Two who exemplify the very early founders of the profession in that they are not just employed in the profession but they also devote significant amounts of their free time in helping others. They are both employed by the Asbury Counseling Center in Madison ( Robbie Dodson has 20 years experience in the field of social work. She volunteers with the Royal Family Kid’s Camp, a camp for foster children ( (see related article at Also Celebrate Recovery ( which is a program for people dealing with addictions. The other woman is Linda Bowman who has 18 years experience. Linda is involved with Healing Hands After-Abortion Recovery Program, Choose Life of North Alabama (, and Ramah International (