“I was raised in New York City,” Andre Morris, Library Social Worker for Orange County Library System explains his personal investment in his work. “I was from Jamaican parentage. We didn’t have our residency, green card, and I went through homelessness; sleeping on floors. My mother and I sometimes didn’t have much to eat. As a result of my personal experience, I said I have to live for something by helping people.”
March has been dubbed National Social Work Month by the National Association of Social Workers. The awareness campaign is an effort to remind the public, policymakers and legislators how our nation’s more than 700,000 social workers each day meet people where they are and help them live to their fullest potential. This year’s campaign is themed “Generations Strong” to highlight the profession’s multi-generational inclusion from the Greatest Generation to the Z Generation.
We’re proud to offer Orange County citizens the life-affirming services of this noble field by offering a full-time social worker who splits his time between five of our locations. In the course of a year, we help more than 2,000 people with social work or, as Morris more accurately puts it, we empower others to help themselves.
“By locating care in the most comprehensive and cost-effective way, I am able to collaborate with various social service agencies, connect customers with available grants and review community resources that fit within their income and eligibility criteria,” says Andre.
Morris came to us with experience in the prison system, schools, and hospice, but finds the library presents a unique challenge because he has “to know a little bit of everything.” He helps connect customers to community services and resources, which can include counseling, nutrition, rehabilitation, transportation and educational services, housing, education and more. Sometimes that help can be as simple as helping the person get a phone – a necessary tool when trying to arrange housing or acquire a job.
“Social Work is for everyone,” says Morris. “Everyone requires some advocacy sometime in their life. If they don’t need it personally, someone else does.”
In addition to holding office hours at Orlando Public Library twice a week, Morris is available at four other branches each week. For locations and hours, visit ocls.info/socialworker.
Additionally, you can connect with local community services in honor of National Social Work Month and meet the library’s social worker and other representatives for our neighbors in need at Reaching Out: A Community Resource Fair at Orlando Public Library on Sunday, March 22, 2–4 p.m.