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 fifth part of this series, Ashley Andreo reflects on the rewarding aspects of social work.
What motivated you to become a social worker?
Honestly watching a lot of Law and Order Special Victims Unit. Other than that though my biggest motivation to become a social worker came from discovering that many of the people in my life had actually been a survivor of child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual violence. The resiliency that they all possessed was amazing and I just wanted to be a part of their healing process.
Where did you go to school and where else have you worked?
I attended Molloy College for my Bachelors Degree in Social Work and I attended Fordham University for my Masters in Social Work. This is my first job since I graduated from Fordham University, but I have completed previous internships with the Department of Corrections, Nassau/Suffolk Law Services, and the Queens District Attorney’s Office in the Special Victim’s Bureau.
What are the challenges and rewards of social work?
I think for me one of the biggest challenges is when I meet a client on Rikers Island who is so excited to be a part of GOSO, but then does not follow through once they are back on the streets. I can call them and follow-up with them, but if they are not ready to try then it will never work. It is hard to see that drastic change in any of my clients especially since it is not something that I can change. For me, one of the biggest rewards is when I speak with a client and they tell me something along the lines of “I really tried to do what we talked about last week and it worked. Thank you so much.” That recognition that they took what I said to heart and it helped them to the point where they come back and thank me or tell me how much of a difference I have made in their life is something that will forever stick out in my head and heart.
How long have you been with GOSO and what about its mission is meaningful to you?
I have been with GOSO now for six months. The entire mission is meaningful to me, but the one part of our mission that means the most to me is our focus on education. One of the biggest ways to reduce recidivism is through education and I do not think that many people understand just how important education is to these young men. Passing their High School Equivalency or getting their High School Diploma is the first step in being able to get a job where you can become financially independent.
What is one of your fondest memories working with GOSO clients?
I think one of my fondest memories happened only a few weeks ago. I was sitting in an office with one of the young men that I had met on Rikers Island and we were discussing his school enrollment and what he was doing when it came to work. We had a visitor that day, and she was brought into the office and introduced to us. She asked him about his experience at GOSO and his experience on Rikers Island. He made a comment about how Rikers Island was horrible and I jokingly gasped and said “Wait that is where you met me and heard about GOSO!” That was when he turned around and said “Meeting you was the best thing that happened while I was there.” Something about that moment and the fact that whenever him and I are both in the office at the same time he will come sit with me for at least 20 minutes made my heart melt. It is the main story I tell people when they ask me about what I do for a living.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in social work?
I say if it is something you have a passion for GO FOR IT! If social work just clicks for you, then you will never wake up hating your job. It has become one of the most rewarding parts of my life, and it can be for you too. The road to becoming a social worker may feel tedious and frustrating sometimes, but at the end of the day every paper, test, and internship is worth what you get in the end, which is to help people who deserve someone by their side telling them that they can succeed and be the person they may have always been striving to be.