GOSO is staffed by a dedicated team of licensed social workers. In honor of Social Work Month, we asked our team members to discuss their passions for their profession and reflect on their experiences at GOSO. In the fourth part of this series, Geoffrey Golia discusses how GOSO became his home.
What motivated you to become a social worker?
I’ve always been interested in helping people live happier, more satisfying lives. Social work, with its tradition of working with people, getting in the trenches with them, and utilizing their strengths, to me is one of the most useful ways to be of assistance to others. Additionally, I’m curious about what makes people tick, or make the decisions they make, or believe what they believe; the psychology we employ every day is fascinating and provide so much insight.
Where did you go to school and where else have you worked?
I graduated with my MSW from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in 2012. My first field placement, in my first year of school, was with GOSO, principally on Rikers Island, and while I’ve worked elsewhere as a social work intern and social work professional, GOSO has always been my home.
What are the challenges and rewards of social work?
Social work is both the most rewarding profession I have encountered and the most taxing. It involves empathy, creativity, patience, and dedication, all of which can inspire and exhaust us. But, at the end of the day, at GOSO, it’s about the guys, and that keeps me going even when things get really hard.
How long have you been with GOSO and what about its mission is meaningful to you?
I’ve been with GOSO, on and off, since 2010, when I started as a social work intern. the mission of GOSO unites so many of social work’s core values: helping folks who have experienced marginalization, utilizing psychology and applied empathy to help, and social justice and challenging the institutional barriers to our guys’ success. What’s most meaningful is the relationships we’ve built with participants and facilitating the friendship and camaraderie amongst the guys.
What is one of your fondest memories working with GOSO clients?
Helping to find our guys jobs is always incredible. It’s such a concrete outcome. No one comes to GOSO asking for a hand out, and the first thing I often hear is, “can you help me find a job? I want to work”. I am lucky to head up GOSOWorks, which is the employment development program of GOSO. Everyday I meet with business owners and let them know I work for the hardest working young men in New York City. When they hire our guys, they find this out first hand. And that feels amazing!
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in social work?
Despite what some folks think, social workers are actually not in the business of giving advice. So what I’d probably do is listen. I’d listen for passion, empathy, curiosity, a desire to help others, and a boldness to just jump into the work. I’d listen for those things and go from there.