Thinking like a social worker

…any questions? Yes. I have plenty.

American made: Marathon training

I posted earlier about 2013 being the year of firsts.  One of those firsts is training for my first marathon. Currently, all of my workout clothing were given to me, so I do not have many pieces that are made in the USA. I have listed all of the stuff I currently own, and have scoured the internet for new finds. The clothing below are not all designed for running, some are for yoga or the gym. Also, not all brands are entirely made in the USA, so make sure to check before you buy.

USA gear I already own:


  • Beyond Yoga yellow bra – I bought it on-sale on My boobs look great in the bra, but there is not much bounce protection.  It would be better for smaller breasts (I am a size 34 D/32 F), but works well if I double it with another bra.
  • Handful orange bra – I pre-ordered this bra, so I received the first shipment of their American made bra. I think they are still working out some kinks. I bought a medium.  It is too small for my boobs in the front, but gaps on the sides like it is too large. It is definitely designed for smaller breasts, because I still bounce if I double it with another sports bra.
  • Wicker underwear – They go above my belly button, so I either wear them with high wasted pants, or roll them down.  I never feel sweaty when wearing them, so they do their job!


  • Expert Performance race tee – I love that SportsBackers supports American made product. I got this tee in “Key Lime” for the Patrick Henry Half tee. It is pretty basic, but light. breathable, and in a wonderfully bright color!
  • Sports Science women’s v-neck – It got this tee with the SportsBackers Marathon Training team. It is black, so I have not worn it as much as I would like. I have noticed the V-neck is too small, so I can feel it on my neck as I run.
  • I also have a pair of running shorts and a sports bra from Asics, but I have never found other clothing from the U.S.


  • Newbalance – I like the feel of my current pair of 890v3, but they are getting beat-up a lot quicker that my other New Balances. Most likely, because I typically get standard shoes, and these are lightweight trainers.
  • Body Glide – Good for chaffing. Good for the USA 🙂
  • Garmin Forerunner 305 – It is not made in the USA, but it I bought it used. I love being able to track my pace while running.

Other brands proudly made in USA:

Good for me:




Coming soon:

Now that I have sweated all over my clothes and prefer not to do weekly laundry, I am excited about treating myself to some new clothing and gear. I especially need new tops, bras, and socks, and a running belt. When I finally treat myself, I will let you know how I like them.

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Monday Morning Share: Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

Over the past couple weeks, I have been following a beautiful labor movement –  The fast food protests to increase the minimum wage.  I also had the opportunity to watch pieces of the 50th anniversary of the March of Washington.  When I hear about people coming together to fight inequality, I ALWAYS cry, because it gives me hope for America’s future.  So while I share many articles on the politics of poverty and studies about poverty in Virginia and around the nation, I am hopeful that together we can demand opportunity for all Americans.

Poverty in Virginia – summer 2013:

  1. Virginia Scorecard shows poverty is worsening.  The poverty section gives more detail about the score.  It also reports that the state has limited influence on poverty.  What?!  I think my multiple articles below shows that the government can have a huge impact on poverty.
  2. Voices for Virginia’s Children report on VA’s Kids Count Profile.  This report also shows setbacks in economic well-being.  Child poverty  has increased by 15 percent since 2005.
  3. Richmond’s Mayor talks about Restructuring Municipal Budgets to Fight Poverty in Spotlight on Poverty.
  4. Virginia Poverty Measure (VPM) gives Virginians a more accurate picture of economic distress.  Its an poverty measure similar to the SPM that I wrote about in January, but focuses on individual-level data.
  5. I just learned about a new blog: through The Commonwealth Institute.  It covers economic issues in Virginia.


  1. A couple articles focus on the Cato Institutes report on welfare: Right-Wing Media Have No Clue How Anti-Poverty Programs Work and Think tank says poor Americans have it too good.
  2. Republicans Are Wearing Driving Millions Into Poverty as a Badge of Honor discusses the sequester’s effect on individuals in poverty.
  3. Expert Testimony from Tianna Gaines-Turner, who is living in and fighting poverty, that was not heard in Washington.
  4. Poverty & Policy blog explains attacks on SNAP program in Congress.
  5. 80 percent of U.S. adults face near poverty, unemployment: Survey is a recent survey through AP.  There has been much discussion around it’s findings.
  6. Our growing racial wealth gap talks about a recent study from Urban Institute.

Please share with me other articles that I may have missed this month.  If you are interested in more up-to-date posts, I retweet articles on my twitter feed throughout the month.

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Monday Morning Share: July was intense

Did I mention July was intense!?

Congress trying to cut SNAP, Wendy Davis standing up for women’s rights, Supreme Court taking away voting rights, Supreme court acknowledging rights of LBTQ families, everyone ignoring the sequester’s affect on food and housing, George Zimmerman being acquitted, and more that hasn’t crossed my radar.

Does your brain ever hurt trying to work through systemic issues that plague our country?

My brain is hurting today.

I am taking time to read many thoughtful articles discussing the implications of Trayvon’s tragic death, and the trail that followed.

  7. And a list of articles I have not read yet:

At the same time, I am reading about our government’s attempt to slash funds to housing and food for individuals and families in poverty.


While I read reflections on the George Zimmerman case, I reflect on my own prejudices and white privilege. As I read about our government taking away access to basic necessities, I can’t help but to think about who is deserving and undeserving of those necessities.

If I still have beliefs that are oppressive and judgmental and just plain wrong, what is the rest of America thinking?

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2013: The year of firsts

Like many social workers, I am a born goal setter.  I am not sure exactly where I want to be in my life, but damn if I am not setting myself up for something great. I like to stay involved, give back, and learn as much as I can.  During 2013, I have been focusing on my personal growth, which has led to many firsts:

January – 1st time sitting on a selection committee for award nominees

February – 1st time on Jury Duty

March – 1st time participating in LGBTQ youth discussion group

April – 1st time leading a grief support group

May – 1st time having coffee with a professor and 1st time participating in a book club

June – 1st time putting on a conference and the 1st time paying out-of-pocket for a training

So, I am branding 2013 “The Year of Firsts.”  I plan to fill the rest of 2013 with many more firsts, both big and small, by having a new “first” each month of the year.  Some I have already planned – running my first marathon, taking my first post-college art class, getting involved with my first VA governor’s race, and others will form by making the commitment to firsts.  Even if the goal is cheesy, it will lead to new experiences.  All experiences, good and bad, lead to personal growth. So, 2013 will be filled many firsts and much growth!

What cheesy goals have you set for yourself this year?  What new experiences have you committed to in 2013?

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Monday Morning Share: Poverty and Privilege

School Finance 101 Blog wrote a piece on The Perils of Economic Thinking, which brought me back to why I started this blog in the first place.  It is fun for me to look back a year ago when I started writing.  I thought that economics would have some answers into human behavior.  I am not so sure anymore, economists seem so far away from the lives of real people.  When I read articles, like the ones below on poverty and privilege, and when I talk with individuals wanting assistance, I can see that economists are a part of the problem.  Maybe that is the reason for continuing learning about economics, so that I can speak the language and have creditably with individuals making decisions that effect others lives.  With that being said, I know there are great theorists out there.  Anyone I should read up on?
Power and Privilege:


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4 “Social Worker Types” in The Wire

I finally finished The Wire last month (only 5 years late).  This show really got my brain moving, but I will save those thoughts for another day.  The Wire focused on different (dysfunctional) systems within Baltimore.  I enjoyed looking out for social workers throughout the series.  Social workers usually get a bad wrap in the media.  Their characters are typically child protective services (CPS) workers that are following up on youth in foster care or taking kids from their parents.  Of course, social work is a huge field of which CPS is a small, but important area.

Here are the 4 “Social Worker Types” that stood out to me:

  1. “Counselor”  – Cutti, a man just out of prison, referred to Deacon as a “social worker type” because he offered Cutti advice and counsel.  While the Deacon was not a social worker, he played many complimentary roles including counseling, connecting resources, advocating, and community organizing.
  2. Child Protective Services (CPS) Worker – The CPS worker is trying to find a new placement for a child who has been attacked.  She is stuck in a bureaucracy that fails to find the child a new placement and he is put in a group home.
  3. Academics – The bumbling professor who was out-of-touch with the real world, but earnest to learning and make the world a better place.  And his Doctoral student, who was sharp and in-touch.  It was interesting to see the contrast.  Older white male = out of touch.  Younger black female = in-touch.
  4. Homeless Shelter Worker – She worked at a homeless shelter in Richmond, VA.  She cared deeply about her clients, and was able to locate a man who left the shelter very quickly (Go Richmond!).

The above four “social worker types” were most likely not educated as social workers.  Also, additional social workers may also have been hiding in scenes about the hospital, police department, schools, and local government – We are everywhere.

My overall take on the show’s view of helpers – The show shined a light on the helpers that came from within the community, which refreshing compared to the “young white woman swoops in to save the day” story line.  Bureaucrats and outside helpers had too much red tape and lacked understanding of real community need, therefore individuals from within were able to make more of an impact.

Any other “social worker types” that people noticed in the show?  What did you think about the portrayal of social workers in The Wire?

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Monday Morning Share: I missed you too

I have been wonderful and busy for the past three weeks.  I have celebrated big news and new experiences.  Hopefully I can share some of those later.  For now, here are some interesting articles from the past couple weeks.



  1. Rethinking Schools Magazine – Learning Math, Learning Social Justice
  2. What the rich think about education
  3. Nine things educators should know about the brain
  4. Students protest school closings (Chicago Tribune)
  5. School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school to prison pipeline
  6. Is Public School Activist’s Status as Private School Parent Relevant?
  7. Can we trust the high school graduation rate?


  1. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity – Economic Opportunity Research
  2. Going to Bed Hungry
  3. Photo Slideshow: Poverty in Today’s America
  4. Bill Moyers Essay: The United States of Inequality


  1. The state of the nonprofit sector? Not so hot. (Katya Non-Profit Marketing Blog)


Upcoming Webinars:

  1. Sexual and Domestic Violence Webinars
  2. The Affordable Care Act, Poverty, and Asset Building (5/1 @ 11AM)
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Sunday Evening Share: Spring Snow

If you are wondering about my week:

  1. I felt icky about Pallotta’s TED talk on increasing nonprofit overhead.  I understand innovation, but I also know how important our causes are, so how important it is to be good stewards of our finances.
  2. I cried reading about the father-daughter dance that took place at Richmond City Jail.  It really restored my faith in humanity.

I also found the below articles interesting.


Social Work

  1. Starting a career at a reproductive justice social worker
  2. Social work and liberalism 


  1. Scientists believe ending poverty hinges on tougher environmental goals
  2. Why there is little coverage of Americans struggling with poverty and Questions about coverage on poverty
  3. Can home visiting alleviate poverty? 


  1. Schools segregation by race and income worsening in the Richmond region
  2. Smart, low-income students are applying the the wrong colleges
  3. Richmond high schools create alternatives to suspension


Upcoming Free Webinars:

  1. List from Wild Apricot
  2. List from nonprofit webinars

I am looking for good resources on support groups and bereavement groups.  If anyone knows of any, please comment with the link below!

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Sunday Evening Share

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  The second week of March has treated me well.  I enjoyed the leadership talk with Rosetta Thurman, Trista Harris, and Paul Schmitz.  I learned that congress has a social work caucus.  I nodded furiously to Classroom to the Capital posts: Patience: An overrated virtue and There’s Always Something We Can Do.  I sadly missed the first Social Work Helper twitter chat about online advocacy, but plan to join the next.  And I mourned the coming loss of Google reader – any suggestions on something similar?

There was some great news this week:

And some news that won’t go way:

  • People are still arguing about raising the minimum wage.  (Which gives me a strong urge to punch people.)
  • NYC may still be able to enjoy oversize beverages, so NYC needs to find a new way to address connection between poverty and obesity.

Special Topics:


  1. Chicago Tribune investages Chicago Public Schools publishing An Empty-Desk Epidemic.
  2. David Sirota writes about possible hidden agendas of wealthy educational reformers in Salon.

Professional Development:


  •  The Science of Communication was a great presentation by Sendhil Mullainathan.  My epiphanies:   1.) Don’t tell people what to do, help them do it by making the positive behavior easier.  2.) Sometimes making a big impact means focusing on small changeable behaviors.


Upcoming free webinars:

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Sunday Evening Share: Injustice Everywhere

On Friday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day.  That same day I learned that  Zerlina Maxwell was harassed after saying men can prevent rape.  Seriously?!  As a social worker, do ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of injustice in the world?  If so, make sure to check out the social work section I will be including all March for Social Work Month.

Special Topics:

Social Work:

  1. Vice recently shared the view of a disgruntled social worker in SF which sparked social workers to share their their own opinions.  One discusses a differing opinion of working in SF; another expresses her anger at the post; and last discusses the obligation of organizations to social workers.
  2. The Political Social Worker discusses Social Work’s Visibility Problem.
  3. Classroom to Capitol reminds us to believe our clients.


  1. Video depicting the wealth inequality in America.
  2. Greg Kaufmann reviews two documentaries on poverty in America.


  1. A timeline of the Richmond region’s civil rights in public schools by The Richmond Times Dispatch.

Professional Development:

Free Webinars:

  1. Everyone Leads: 5 Ways to Step Up and Make a Greater Impact in Your Work – Monday, March 11th @ 12PM
  2. Who is poor in this country and why – Wednesday, March 13th @ 2PM
  3. Poverty, Public Education, and Corporate Influence – Monday, March 11th @ 8PM


  1. Conference on Race, Class, Opportunity and School Boundaries in the Richmond Region • March 13-14, 2013
  2. Articles on Creativity: Bruce Nussbaum explains how to find and amplify creativity.  Another blog asks Bruce additional questions about creativity.
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