For those looking to go into the field of social work, Charlie Kramer has a positive attitude and an abundance of knowledge when it comes to working with people with disabilities. When asked why he loves social work his answer is “everyone has a different story! It’s like reading a new book every hour.” He feels that people are fascinating and is grateful to be able to understand and relate to people all the time.
Charlie also loves how social work is “a little bit of everything” and how social work opens so many doors as there are various paths one can take with a social work degree. Charlie recommends that people find what they love about social work and run with that passion.
Charlie notes that advocacy is a big part of the job. Sticking up for vulnerable populations, such as the disabled is an important task to ensure all people are receiving justice and equality. He notes that disability rights are human rights.
In social work, it is incredibly important to allow the person to struggle and do things on their own. For example, although it may be easier to simply do things for people with disabilities, they will not be able to learn as deeply if they are not experiencing things themselves. It is important to learn to be there with the person while they are struggling or in pain.
Charlie recommends that social workers remember to “take care of the person in the mirror.” If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot care for others. Practices such as exercise and meditation are great ways to make sure we are taking care of our bodies and minds.
According to Charlie, key characteristics of a social worker are compassion, active listening & genuineness. He also recommends not getting stuck on labels or having preconceptions about the client before you meet him or her.
Charlie Kramer, LCSW-R. Southern Tier Independence Center, April 14th, 2016.