The month of March is National Social Work Month. In keeping with the 2014 theme, “All People Matter,” Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will celebrate the commitments of the social workers in the agency by highlighting a few of our dedicated employees who have earned their degrees in social work.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, the American social work profession was established in the late 19th century to ensure that immigrants and other vulnerable people gained tools and skills to escape economic and social poverty. The profession of social work (a) helps people in their personal and interpersonal lives in order to achieve social improvement, and (b) pursues social change to benefit a wide variety of individuals, families and communities. Social workers believe that everyone has the right and potential to lead a productive and fulfilling life. Social workers believe in the importance of human relationships in civil society, and that each person has dignity and worth. The NASW Code of Ethics prioritizes human well-being. The policies and programs created by social workers throughout U.S. history seek to give more people — regardless of life circumstances — the opportunity to cope with and overcome obstacles.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens holds the mission of translating the Gospel of Jesus Christ into action by affirming the dignity and value of every person, especially the most vulnerable members of our diverse society. Catholic Charities develops effective responses to human need and joins with all people of good will in advocating for a social order which promotes justice and embraces human development.
The social workers within our agency, along with all of our CCBQ employees work hard every day to serve our communities to the best of their abilities. Below are some of their stories:
MARIA VAIS, MSW – Case Manager
Maria Vais, MSW, a Case Manager at the Catholic Charities Brooklyn Community Center. She has been in that role for four years and finds her career very rewarding. She sees about 15-20 clients per day at her Our Lady Of Solace Office, in addition to seeing clients at the Brooklyn Community Center office. Additionally, she keeps up with her clients through many many weekly phone calls … Read her story here.
YESENIA JAVIER, MSW – Social Worker
Yesenia Javier, MSW, has worked for Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens for the past 12 years. A native of a small town in the Dominican Republic, Yesenia found her calling in social work after experiencing her own difficulties with learning English. After teaching herself English while attending undergraduate school at LaGuardia Community College, Yesenia realized that she wanted to enter a field where she would be able to assist people in finding the help they needed — despite any language barriers … Read her story here.
LYSTRA MADOO-DEVINE, MSW – Program Site Manager, Queens CC Satellite Sites
Lystra Madoo-Devine, MSW, has worked in the field of social services since the 1980’s, getting her start at a child welfare agency in East Harlem, before coming to Catholic Charities as an administrator. Lystra finds that her love and drive for social work is founded in her South East Asian multicultural background, with a strong desire to help all people work through and resolve challenges … Read her story here.
LENISHA SCOTLAND, LMSW – Social Work Supervisor, Brooklyn Community Center
Lenisha Scotland, LMSW, her roots planted in Brooklyn. She grew up in Brooklyn and has established her career here as a social work supervisor at Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens in the Brooklyn Community Center. Originally a clinical psychology major, Lenisha took a social work class in her last semester and was hooked. That class led her down the path she pursues today, one of advocacy, teaching and support …. Read her story here.
JENNILLE MORRIS, LMSW – Program Site Manager for the Brooklyn Satellite Sites
Jennille Morris, LMSW, got introduced into the field of social work when her guidance counselor gave her an overview of SUNY Albany’s school of social work. It peaked Jennille’s interest and a few years later, she graduated with her BSW and later her master’s degree and License. From the moment her guidance counselor gave her that introduction into the field of social work, she knew she wanted to continue on this path. As the program site manager for CCBQ satellite sites in Brooklyn, she supervises case managers in both the central Brooklyn Community Center at 191 Joralemon as well as the outreach sites around the borough … Read her story here.
CHELSY SPENCER, LMSW – Therapist, Behavioral Health Center – Clinic
Chelsy Spencer, LMSW is a therapist for the Behavioral Health Center – Clinic in Jackson Heights, N.Y., also known as the “Corona Clinic.” Chelsy fell in love with the mental health aspect of psychology while an undergraduate student at Hofstra University. Coupled with her volunteer work, her education led her to a career in clinical social work – which focuses a lot on children and their mental health needs. …. Read her story here.
HOLLY JASKIEWICZ SCHATZ, LCSW – Clinical Manager, Behavioral Health Center – Clinic
You could say Holly Jaskiewicz Schatz, LCSW was born for social work. Her father was a social worker and her love for the field stems from him. As a child, Holly used to go with her father to work and to some of his programs/classes. Originally a psychology major, Holly found that the field of social work lent itself better to make a more direct difference in people’s lives at a quicker pace. Today, Holly is the clinical manager for the Behavioral Health Center – Clinic in Jackson Heights … Read her story here.
MADELEINE DORVAL MOLLER, MSW, MPA – Director, Disaster Case Management Program
Director Madeleine Dorval Moller, MSW, MPA has played a large part in the success of CCBQ’s Disaster Case Management Program, which was originally established to help those left in need after Superstorm Sandy. Madeleine has a long history in the field of social work, getting her start and her experience working originally with children in foster care, then families who have experienced domestic violence. “It was an eye-opening experience for me that I had a skill that I didn’t know I had,” said Madeleine … Read her story here.
SARA SUMAN, LMSW – Clinical Supervisor, Flatbush Addiction Treatment Center
Sara Suman, LMSW, is the Clinical Supervisor at Catholic Charities Flatbush Addiction Treatment Center. She loves that her job allows her the opportunity to work on social justice issues and how they affect people individually, leading to and building up to community change. Sara’s interest in clinical social work and the field of addictions comes from her personal experience of witnessing and confronting substance use disorder in a variety of contexts. Sara is originally from San Francisco, Calif. She became interested in social work while taking part in the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Los Angeles. …. Read her story here.
GINAMARIE MACCHIA, LCSW – Clinical Supervisor, Rockaway Mental Health Services Program
The Clinical Supervisor at the Rockaway Mental Health Services Program, GinaMarie Macchia, LCSW always knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a social worker. “I was told growing up that I was a good listener and I had good insight… I knew that this was what my path was supposed to be.” With CCBQ since April 2013, she oversees three clinicans as well as extended help to all staff. In Far Rockaway, she does crisis-intervention as well as dealing with trauma and substance abuse. … Read her story here.
BEATRICE HYPPOLITE, MSW – Case Manager, Disaster Case Management Program
Beatrice Hyppolite, MSW will celebrate her one-year anniversary as a Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Disaster Case Management Program Case Manager this May. Established two years ago, the Disaster Case Management (DCM) Program provides long-term assistance for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Beatrice says “You’d be surprised to see how many people are still struggling to fix their homes…Many visits I’ve done, I was surprised to see many people still sleeping on the floor.” … Read her story here.
ELAINE SCOTT, MSW – Case Manager, Disaster Case Management Program
From a young age, Elaine Scott, MSW, discovered she had a natural talent for social work. As a child, Elaine would travel to neighborhoods that were less fortunate and give out clothes she no longer wore. Elaine got her start as a substance abuse counselor in a hospital. She later moved on to work at a middle school before finding her current home at CCBQ. Elaine describes her work as: compassion, strength and listening. Once called an “Angel” by one of her former clients, she says “Even though you may not be able to save everybody, if you make a difference in one person’s life, you have done something positive. … Read her story here.
LORIN BLAKE, MSW – Clinical Manager, Care Coordination Program
Lorin Blake, MSW, always knew that social work was something she would be good at. “From a very young age, I was always a people person. I was the person everybody came to. The ear that always listened.” A Chicago native, Lorin got her start in social work through her education. Though Lorin originally began her focus on addictions, she then began to shift her focus to mental health. … Read her story here.
JULIO PEREZ, BSW – Case Manager, Queens Community Center and Satellite Sites
Julio Perez’s office is filled with cards and letters from clients he has helped – some that even called him their “Christmas Angel.” Julio’s office also features a quote rock which simple states “all things grow with love.” Julio is the case manager for the Queens Community Center and Satellite Sites and became interested in social work after witnessing first hand people in poverty that were in need of help during his childhood playing in community-organized sports leagues. … Read his story here.
RICHARD SLIZESKI, LMSW – Director of Administration, Monica House
Richard Slizeski, LMSW, is the Director of Administration at CCBQ’s Monica House, a Community Residence/Single Room Occupancy (CR/SRO) transitional living residence for those struggling with mental illness and who have a history of homelessness. Richard has double master degrees in social work and divinity studies after earning his bachelor’s degree in journalism. He previously has worked as a lay person in the church for justice issues. He even had the opportunity to travel to Latin America. … Read his story here.
MARY OWENS, MSW – Assistant Director of East New York Homebase, Dr. Lutas Center
Mary Owens, LMSW, is an assistant director for Catholic Charities East New York Homebase, at the Dr. Lutas Center. Mary fell in love with the field of social work after partaking in the social work program at Fordham University. Coupled with her extensive background in service activities and projects, her education has led her to a successful and fulfilling career in social work. “It was something I did to have fun — and then I realized I really liked it and felt fulfilled.” … Read her story here.
HERMINE PELTA – Intake Coordinator, Behavioral Health Division, Monica House
Hermine Pelta, a 19 plus year veteran at Catholic Charities, describes social work as something that is in her blood. Hermine’s mother being a social worker allowed her to see first-hand the amazing effects social workers had on peoples’ lives. As a teenager, Hermine would often accompany her mother to work and it soon became something she knew she wanted to carry on. Hermine was a trailblazer in her field of behavioral health. … Read her story here.
KIM CAUFIELD, MSW – Activities Coordinator/Social Worker Caring Communities
Kim Caufield, MSW, developed a passion for people at a young age. She has always been fascinated by psychology and discovering what motivates people. Originally from Hauppauge, N.Y., Kim attended SUNY Cortland for her undergraduate and then Hunter College from MSW. While attending school for psychology, Kim fell in love with the field of social work and having the opportunity to have direct and personal interaction with clients. At CCBQ, Kim acts as the Activities Coordinator and Social Worker within Caring Communities-SRO. … Read her story here.
TRICIA PHILBERT, MSW – Clinical Supervisor/Caring Communities
Tricia Philbert, MSW, describes herself as someone who has always enjoyed helping and supporting others. Initially pursuing a career in journalism, she changed her career path after taking an introductory course in social work as an undergraduate student. “The class made me realize that I had a passion for the field of social work and it was what I was meant to be doing. I realized that with social work you use your passion and my passion was for people.” …Read her story here.
KATHY IDRIS, MSW – Housing Coordinator
Kathy Idris, MSW decently celebrated her two-year anniversary at CCBQ where she is the housing coordinator for various housing residences, including the St. Brendan’s Senior Apartments, Pierrepont House for the Elderly, Msgr. Burke Apartments and Holy Spirit Apartments. Originally from Barbados, Kathy came to New York when she was nine years old. Kathy realized her passion for social work while participating in various social service club activities in high school such as, Meals-on-Wheels and visiting a senior home. … Read her story here.