JCCA’s Maslow Awards recognize the exceptional work of individual employees, or teams up to six people. One director could not narrow it down to six and wrote this moving tribute to her staff instead.

This is for the entire Edenwald Social Work Department. The work, dedication, commitment, tenacity, and heart they have shown every single day has been magnified by the global Pandemic. Though biased in my opinion as their Director, I readily admit how lucky I feel to work with such a diverse, talented, humorous, healthily sarcastic, deeply empathic, fiercely passionate, and dedicated group of people.

As states shut down for the first time our Campus remained open. It made sense but the reality was suddenly scary for staff and youth alike. Each person’s situation at home was unique —but they showed up. It wasn’t just about showing up, it was and continues to be about showing up and doing whatever is needed because everything has been different. They have continued providing individual and group therapy, but they have also assisted in the milieu. They collaborate daily with RYC staff, learned “new math,” and refreshed old subjects to effectively support the young people.

Many saw this Pandemic as an opportunity to engage family members who previously were unresponsive, resulting in children having virtual visits with family members they previously missed and longed for.

The most notable example of their commitment to assisting and improving the lives of their clients in spite of the pandemic that blanketed heavily on everyone, has to do with the racial violence that has continued to occur in this country and the associated media coverage. The social workers have created safe spaces and allowed youth to talk, question, and express verbally, creatively, and physically. They have worked to provide opportunities for youth to exercise their voices and to experience their voices being heard.

The Edenwald Social Work Department’s work has been unwavering through these uncharted waters. Professional and personal worlds collided as both self and clients are being threatened by the same invisible virus. Working with clients effectively while everyone has been battling their fears, vulnerability, and facing the reality of mortality is no small feat.

The entire Westchester Campus has been unwavering throughout this Pandemic and continues to be so, but I can speak most readily for my department of exemplary clinicians, team members, and human beings. Thank you for the work you have done and continue to do.