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MSW News: Totally UNExpectedGreetings from the Director

For our Election 2016 and Get Out the Vote theme for this issue, we are happy to have a special Guest Director Greeting written by our own Thomas Chalmers McLaughlin. Take it away, Tom!

Vote posterI am honored to serve as the “guest director” for this month’s newsletter. As my first official act as guest director, I would like to offer free tuition or continuing education credits to any and all of you. Welcome! ;)

On a serious note, I’ve been engaged in frank and open conversations with my VERY conservative neighbor. He and I don’t see eye to eye on much but we are neighbors and with the tremendous polarization of our political culture in this election cycle we have found common ground to as least talk politics over a beer or two. It’s been a great summer for sitting on the porch! 

A couple of weeks ago as we were talking we discovered that the news we read is highly filtered. As an experiment, with both did news searches on Donald Trump using the same search engine from our smart phones. Surprisingly, my news feed was filled with negative stories while his was some positive stories. As we talked about this, we realized that its not about making informed decisions on policy issues, its actually the filter selecting the facts which support our search habits, preferences. I guess that kinda makes sense. We want the world to fit with our preferred narrative on how things should be. But, we are both educated people which means we have the skills and I would say duty to read all sides of an issue, candidate and use all the available information to inform our decision making processes. 

The danger here, as I see it, is this filter of information that matches what we already agree with. If we are able to choose the facts that match with our filter, we lose perspective and even the ability to make informed decisions. Short headlines don’t really tell the story of our lack of social inclusivity for many who are marginalized.

I was thinking about this the other day as I was walking to work and met a man named Chris asking for spare change in monument square. I recognized him from some of the interviews I had done at Milestone, the wet shelter downtown. We talked a bit to catch up, he’s been sober for 8 months but lost his SNAP (food stamps) with the recent policy changes. He’s doing some part time work on a fishing boat and recently got married to his sweetheart of 1 year. He attributes his sobriety to her “steady hand on the tiller” as they lived through a difficult summer in a tent outside. He’s hopeful they will soon be up for a subsidized apartment in the next year or so. I asked him if he voted. As a life long resident of Portland, he said, yes, he has voted in every election, just like my neighbor and me.

But there is a HUGE difference here. This is someone whose life is significantly impacted by policy decisions made by those who we elect. When housing subsidies are cut, SNAP benefits eliminated and work rules changed, this impacts him directly and significantly. Sure, he may also receive facts which support his preferred narrative but, in the end, the impact is much more severe on him.

All of this brings me to my point — each vote counts. When the three of us vote, I vote for the candidate who I think will best support Chris. Chris does the same and my friend votes for the other candidate, in the end its 2 to 1 and Chris wins! As we enter the final stretch of the election cycle at both the national and state levels, I am voting with Chris. I hope you will do the same and encourage your friends to vote for candidates who value social inclusion in both their words, the data they choose and their actions.

— Thomas Chalmers McLaughlin, PhD, Professor

In this Issue



News and Happenings

UNE MSW student named top 40 under 40 business leaders for his work with veterans!

Evis Terpollari (MSW '18) was recently listed in the Worcester Business Journal Online's list of Top 40 under 40 business leaders in the area (Worcester, MA). He currently works at Veterans, Inc. as a site coordinator. Congratulations Evis!

Read the Article

une school of social work welcomes new faculty and staff members!

The UNE SSW and WCHP are happy to welcome Valerie Jones as new faculty and Tiarra LaPierre and Meg Webster as new staff to our team!:

I began my journey at UNE as a MSW student in 2004 and new to the field of Social Work. I found the faculty and staff to be exceptional and the program to be both educational and inspiring. It was this experience as a student that led me to the dream of teaching at UNE in the School Of Social Work. I began as an adjunct faculty member in 2010 and have had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses while working full time at the Center for Grieving Children. This August, my dream became a reality as I became a full time faculty member working in Field Education. I am excited to begin this new chapter in my professional life and look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students here at UNE. 

I’m so excited to be working with UNE’s School of Social Work. Just prior to being hired at UNE, I was working at the Intercultural Community Center in Westbrook, Maine where I did videography and photography, program coordination and taught ELL and Career Readiness Courses within the asylee, refugee and immigrant community. My professional background weaves higher education and student services with multicultural education, social work and art (film/photography). I have an insatiable curiosity for people, culture and place and the values that underlie social work have always resonated with me.

Tiarra graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a Degree in English and a minor in Environmental Science. After graduating she worked with Americorps at local non-profits, LearningWorks and Avesta Housing. With a history of interest in humanitarian issues and underserved populations she is thrilled to be joining the UNE School of Social Work as a Staff Assistant. She has traveled to 15 countries across 4 continents and likes to trap people into listening to her stories. Her hobbies include and are mostly limited to running, reading classic fiction and playing videogames. 

professor tom mclaughlin article for bangor daily news: How Maine's Seasonal workers could benefit more from summer tourism

Read the article

ssw director shelley cohen konrad and professor tom mclaughlin respond to portland press herald editorial

In response to the PPH June 25th Editorial titled "Our View: Child well-being in Maine headed in wrong direction," Shelley and Tom put together a very thoughtful response in a Letter to the Editor piece titled 'Early intervention would benefit well-being of Maine children'. 

Read the article

professor arabella perez featured in bangor daily news article: Maine rejects scarce funds for young people with mental illness

Read the article

JT Gorman logoune school of social work receives grant from john t. gorman foundation!

UNE will collaborate with five community partners, Maine Behavioral Health, Maine Quality Counts, Maine Resilience Building Network, THRIVE and the Community Caring Collaborative to build a statewide trauma-informed coalition. UNE School of Social Work Director Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., F.N.A.P., and Arabella Pérez, M.S.W., UNE assistant clinical professor, will lead the project in partnership with Marjorie Withers, L.C.P.C., founding director of the Community Caring Collaborative in Washington County. The University of New England School of Social Work has been awarded a substantial grant from the prestigious John T. Gorman Foundation. The $93,500 award will provide an academic hub to provide training for social workers in the area of trauma. The goal of the 12-month grant is to develop a comprehensive, education-response plan to ensure that public systems are more responsive and effective in their delivery of services to Maine's people.

The foundation advances and invests in innovative ideas and opportunities that improve the lives of Maine's most vulnerable people. The independent, statewide foundation focuses on four key areas: Improving educational achievement for children, promoting successful transitions to adulthood for vulnerable older youth, helping struggling parents to support their families and enabling low-income seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible. The foundation's work is guided by data, evaluation, national best practices and lessons from the initiatives in which we invest. We also seek to inform and influence practice and policy on issues affecting disadvantaged children, youth, families and seniors.

“We are honored to receive this generous award from the John T. Gorman Foundation and believe the UNE School of Social Work has trauma-informed expertise and a legacy of innovative educational outreach to achieve its goals,” said Cohen Konrad. “We are committed to developing a statewide plan and ensuring its sustainable implementation to improve quality and caring services for all Maine’s people.”


Back in April the student organization held a fundraiser and raffle at Portland restaurant Flatbread Company, where a portion of every bill was given to a local social work agency. By the end they had raised more than $400 all of which was donated to Family Crisis Services. Great work team!

Visiting Israeli Scholars: Giori Rahav and Nehami Baum 

nehami baumUNE’s School of Social Work was proud to host visiting Israeli scholars, Nehami Baum Ph. D. and Giora Rahav, Ph.D., this August. Baum is a professor at Bar Ilan University’s School of Social Work and Rahav is a Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University's School of Social Work and department of Sociology. They first learned of UNE’s School of Social work from a visiting American scholar in Israel. It soon materialized they had common research interests as Director of UNE’s SSW Shelley Cohen Konrad Ph.D., L.C.S.W., F.N.A.P and in the scholar's words — from here, “the way was short.”

Rahav focuses his studies on criminology and, in the past decade, on the use of alcohol and drugs, mostly on cross-national comparisons. Baum’s research interests are non-death losses (e.g., divorce, stillbirth, physical and mental illness, immigration etc.), gender differences in psychotherapy and social work as a profession.

They had planned to stay with us two months but returned home earlier than intended as Baum was elected the next head of the School of Social Work at Bar Ilan University. Though we were sad to say goodbye, we extend our congratulations and are sure they will continue to contribute great work to the field of social work! 

Giora Rehav

Personal reflections from our scholars:

Our experience here was especially good. To begin with, we had a very warm welcome, which made it a really heart-warming experience. Professor Konrad-Cohen called us at home even before we have arrived and helped with all the arrangements. Ms. Vicki Walker, the school’s staff assistant, welcomed us with a wide smile every morning, and generally, all the faculty that we had a chance to meet were very friendly. One of the highlights was that professor McLaughlin invited us to stay in a place he has on the island (unfortunately, a sudden health problem prevented us from accepting it). We also liked the fact that it is a small campus, and — most of the time — the fair weather. In fact, this is the first time that we really saw Maine, so we were highly impressed by the water (rivers, lakes, bays and beaches) and the huge forests. One of the things we are sorry to have missed is a fall in New England. Thus, both the academic experience and the tourist aspect of our visit makes us wish to return.


Professor craig owens assists focus group on une dream classroom

Envisioning the Ideal Classroom: Over the past year a team of faculty and students across the university came together at the invitation of Susan Hillman, director of the Center for the Enrichment of Teaching and Learning, to participate in a unique opportunity to envision the ideal classroom. Mike Lashua and Craig Owens represented social work and WCHP along with other folks from various departments. The visioning workshops generated ideas of what would make an ideal learning environment; things like visually appealing textures and colors, flexible and mobile furniture, different types of seating and work areas, and state of the art technology. These ideas were turned into reality this past summer and pilot “ideal classrooms” were built on the Portland and Biddeford campuses. The Portland pilot classroom is in Blewett 108. A number of our social work classes are being held in this room and students are being invited to participate in a research pilot to evaluate the impact of the new design on student learning. Stop by and check out Blewett 108, if you don’t have a class in there now, hopefully you will soon! 

winners announced for the jphs essay contest

In May a student essay contest was held for the UNE affiliated Journal of Progressive Human Services and we are happy to announce the winners here: 

  • Alexis Jemal, PhD Candidate at Rutgers University: Essay titled "The Opposition"
  • Iris Cardenas, MSW Candidate at Rutgers University: Essay titled "Radical Social Work"
  • Carter Vance, BSW Candidate at Algoma University: Essay titled "Towards a Radical Model of Social Work in Rural Communities"

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who submitted. The winning articles will be available in the upcoming journal release. Please stay tuned on their website.

another successful new student orientation!

UNE and the School of Social Work welcomed the new group of MSW candidates for 2016-2017 in late August. There were many introductions, info sessions, and fun and thoughtful activities. Included was the viewing of two very profound short films: "Beyond the Cliff" TED Talk by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, and "The Danger of a Single Story" TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Thank to all who participated and helped out, and welcome again to the new students!

social work student orientation 2016

social work student orientation 2016

social work student orientation 2016

social work new student orientation 2016


In this issue of our newsletter we are bringing the focus in on Elections 2016 and Getting out the vote! Below are some thoughtful pieces by a student, members of our faculty and an alumna. Please note that the opinions expressed here are those held by the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of the School of Social work and/or the University of New England as a whole. 

Charlotte Warren

On Tuesday, November 8: Vote Your Values

by Charlotte Warren, MSW, UNE SSW Adjunct Professor, House District #84 Hallowell, Manchester, West Gardiner

There is a lot at stake in this upcoming election. When you go to the ballot box on November 8, you’ll be making many more choices than just who you want for President. Your statewide ballot will also include referendum questions, congressional races and legislative candidates. You’ll also possibly be making municipal decisions. In this article, I’m focusing on state legislative races.

Every seat in the Maine legislature is up for re-election. All Maine Representatives and Senators will be chosen on November 8. You might say that as Mainers, we get to push the “reset” button in Augusta. For the past two years, the House of Representatives has been controlled by Democrats and the State Senate has been controlled by Republicans. And, we have Republican Governor Paul LePage. All of the policy decisions we have made over the past two years have been influenced by this legislative make-up — called “divided government.” Governor Paul LePage has veto authority, so any bill he doesn’t like needs to receive a two-thirds majority vote.

We have not made a lot of progress over the last two years, and Maine families are paying the price — literally.

As the semester begins anew, all first-year social work students will spend two semesters learning about social welfare policy. It is very important, as you are learning about these concepts and their history, to pay attention to which political party supports a strong social safety net and which political party supports dismantling social programs. And, then make your choice for your state senator and state representative based on your views regarding the role of government.

Personally, I think it is the government’s job to try and make people’s lives better. I believe in a social contact whereby we all make sure people have good healthcare, children have good schools, nobody goes hungry and much more. My belief in government as a tool to improve people’s lives is why I ran for public office in the first place, serving as a city councilor, then mayor, and now as a state representative. It’s also why I’ll be supporting Democratic candidates on my ballot in November.

I encourage you to research the candidates asking for your vote and be sure they represent your values.

Elizabeth HanzGet Out the Vote and the 2016 Election

by Elizabeth Hanz, UNE MSW Candidate '17

I believe that Hilary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. However, I am still worried about the number of people who are supporting Donald Trump. While I think it is very unlikely that he will win the general election, he has already won in some ways. Donald Trump is winning at normalizing hate. I do not believe that all of his supporters are inherently racist, sexist, xenophobic, or misogynistic. However, to support Donald Trump, you have to be comfortable with those beliefs becoming values of our country.

It is not only Donald Trump’s hate-filled language that concerns me, though. The current political climate is very polarized and it is not just occurring across parties. Even within the Democratic Party, there has been a lack of respect that has left a bad taste in my mouth. From the start, I have been a Democrat. I have always been pro Hilary and pro Bernie. Members of the Democratic Party have said that a Clinton presidency would be the same as a Trump presidency. A statement like this is a gross oversimplification of political values and goals, patently untrue and wildly disrespectful. That being said, the cross party disrespect is even more mindboggling. I fear that the polarization will continue when Hilary is elected. When did compromise become such a dirty word? I support much of what our Democratic leaders speak of and I am proud to be a part of a country that elected Barack Obama. However, it can’t be denied that a large part of America doesn’t agree with me. The DNC left me feeling inspired, but what about the people who don’t agree or disagree entirely? Do their voices get ignored in favor of those who are loudest and quickest to point fingers and pass blame? While it isn’t always portrayed in the media, we are more alike than we are different. I believe that more of us meet in the middle than to either extreme but the polarization has made it seem like only one belief is correct. That being said, it would be forgetting the foundation of this country to believe that life is just black or white. We must remember that when only one side wins, democracy has failed.

I have two babies at home and a big part of my day is teaching respect, kindness, empathy and manners. Children are a clean slate when they are born — they are pure love. Hate and all dark parts of our society are taught. Looking at our future, I fear for the children who are being shown that bullying and hate are acceptable forms of behavior. That pointing fingers, not taking accountability and belittling different opinions are how they will succeed as adults. That anyone different from them is wrong. Our history is our story and this moment in time will be a defining chapter. We have been on the wrong side of history before — let us not repeat our mistakes. Our voices matter and it is up to each one of us to vote and to make sure that everyone we know, even if their vote is different from ours, votes too. To quote President Obama: “Don’t boo, vote!” 

Frank BrooksVoting from a Social Justice Perspective 

by Frank Brooks, Ph.D., LCSW, UNE SSW Clinical Assistant Professor

As social workers, we are professionally prepared to consider the social justice implications of public policy. It is therefore helpful to use a social justice lens when considering the policy positions of political candidates at the local, state and national levels so that we can be fully-informed social justice voters.

Social workers need to consider all political candidates’ records on social justice issues — especially with regard to the treatment of marginalized/at risk groups in our society — it is our ethical and moral obligation. This is even more important today as we experience outrageous public behavior and speech by many political candidates that embody the antithesis of ethical and morally sound decision making.

Using social justice standards to judge candidates means that federal, state and local candidates running for elected office must be able to meet NASW or IFSW ethical standards that include actively supporting the value of all human beings to be treated equally under the law. In addition, social justice standards must be reflected in candidates’ efforts to reduce disparities and discriminatory treatment of marginalized populations. 

An example of a vulnerable population and its concerns may be helpful to help us understand what is at stake. When LGBT people consider voting for a presidential candidate, many will start with an assessment of how the candidates have dealt with issues related to the LGBT communities. It is not the only consideration, as LGBT people are often just as concerned about economic issues, military and war issues and the myriad other public policy issues that face the greater society. It is important, however, to support LGBT people in their quest to know how a candidate will represent their interests with regard to their public policy positions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. We as social workers can help LGBT communities identify those candidates who are ethically and morally aligned with equal justice for LGBT communities.

As shocking as it sounds, the Republican Party’s 2016 platform includes many anti-LGBT planks including ones that disparage same-sex marriages, promote discrimination by supporting anti-LGBT religious freedom legislation on the state and federal level and, believe it or not, promoting reparative therapies which attempt to force LGBT people to change their sexual orientations! Reparative therapies have been repudiated by all three major professional mental health professions and are illegal in a growing number of states. A lot of people say that the Republican Party platform is not relevant and that very few pay attention to it. It is relevant to the lives of LGBT people and social workers need to consider challenging and eliminating discrimination wherever it appears. Is it unethical for social workers to vote for Republican candidates when their policy platform clearly violates the NASW code of ethics?

Social workers can be proud of our professional codes of ethics that help guide our behavior at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Let’s put our efforts behind candidates whose commitment to social justice is identifiable, measurable and able to be disseminated to the public.

Jenna PowersThe Social Work Practice of Voter Empowerment

by Jenna Powers, MSW, UNE MSW Alumna, UNE MSW Advisor and Adjunct Professor, PhD Candidate (UConn)

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not" — Dr. Seuss "The Lorax"

You and I both know that you do care “a whole awful lot” because that is why you are here, reading this newsletter— as a social work student, alumni, faculty, or community member who holds social work values. Service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence...we all talk about these values in our classes and meetings, and right now is a critical time to practice these values in a meaningful and effective way. Yes, I’m talking about VOTING. Voting is not only a social work issue — voting is a social work solution. As social workers, it is our responsibility to vote, and it is our responsibility to assist others in voting. Each of the aforementioned social work values are highlighted within the nonpartisan voter empowerment process.

Not only is voter empowerment in line with our profession’s values, but it is a tool that assists us in reaching our practice goals — improving our clients’ well-being through personal empowerment and feelings of connectedness:

  • “Voting is a form of personal empowerment that gives the opportunity to voice opinions...Political engagement lessens some of the negative mental health consequences related to oppression and discrimination and increases overall well-being” (Sanders, 2001).
  • “Being politically active is linked with greater well-being and life satisfaction...Being politically active increases an individual’s sense of satisfaction, provides them an opportunity to feel positive and connected to others. In general, voting increases happiness and life satisfaction” (Klar & Kasser, 2009).

“Voting” is not a dirty word. Regardless of what you may think or have been told, you are allowed to say it in public — including in your work place or internship site. In fact, I urge you to shout it from the roof tops, “VOTE!” By providing disenfranchised people with the information on when/where/how to vote (not recommending for whom or what they vote for), you are connecting them with vital resources to voice their own opinions, make their own decisions, improve their own mental health and be connected to their community.

Although we may be tempted to believe that it is a micro vs. macro, clinical vs. community world, I urge you to resist that temptation of such simplistic and ineffective thinking. Our micro informs our macro, and vice versa. We cannot (and should not) have one without the other — for this would be doing our clients a disservice. According to an email I received from the League of Women Voters this morning, “there are still millions of citizens who remain unregistered [to vote] and will be turned away at the polls in November.” Those are millions of people who want to share their voice, but do not yet have the resources and information to do so. As we work closely with those who are less likely to vote — young people, people of color and people of lower socioeconomic status — it is our duty to educate and empower these millions of people to vote for the candidates and issues that they believe in, regardless of who/what those might be.

Voter empowerment is beneficial to clients’ well-being as well as an essential part of community empowerment and system change. Despite social work’s long history in registering people to vote, many schools of social work do not include any training on nonpartisan voter registration, education and outreach, and the majority of agencies where students are placed either do not see voter empowerment as an important part of their mission and/or do not want to be seen as political. Without training and support, most students do not see nonpartisan voter engagement as directly relevant to their professional practice. Additionally, most are unaware of the 1993 Voter Registration Act that requires state agencies and nonprofits enrolling clients for public assistance to offer voter registration.

This is why I am so excited to be working with the UConn Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work on their Nonpartisan Voter Empowerment Training for Schools of Social Work pilot program. The goal is that all social work students will embrace voter engagement as part of their professional responsibilities, regardless of setting, led by a collaborative effort between schools of social work and field agencies that will ultimately embed this work throughout the profession. As the first year of the pilot was just completed (at UConn and the University of Nevada, Reno), the evaluation of the program showed success in a number of areas — specifically that, following the training, students significantly increased their reports of the importance of voter engagement to them and their social work practice and encouraging others to vote.

The most exciting part about this voter empowerment program is that it is being expanded to additional schools by providing training, classroom resources (including slides and videos), evaluation tools and technical assistance to faculty and field directors. The Humphreys Institute is also part of a National Voter Empowerment Campaign which supports this training and voter empowerment within the profession. The Campaign has created with resources for faculty and students. 

Unless people like you and I — who care a great deal about the betterment of disempowered people — go the extra mile, think outside of the box, push the envelope...We aren’t going to see our goal of social justice realized. Unless we use every tool in our toolkits — micro and macro alike — and try some things that we haven’t yet tried, we aren’t going to create innovative and effective changes to our ever-evolving, complex social issues. Unless we begin to exercise these changes, we won’t reap any changes in our results. Let today, as we prepare for the upcoming election, be the day to begin reshaping our practices to be more holistic.

If you’d like to learn more about how to be engaged — and engage others — in the electoral process, I highly recommend attending the upcoming Northern New England Campaign School on October 14 & 15. (Like the Voter Empowerment Campaign, this work is slowly but surely being expanded with the goal to work amongst all Schools of Social Work.) Some of you may remember the inaugural Campaign School in Maine last spring. I am thrilled that NASW Maine will be continuing to work with the UConn Humphreys Institute, UNE, and all other Schools of Social Work in Northern New England to broaden this imperative training and networking opportunity for social workers in this region. For more information about registration, continuing education hours, etc., please see the flyer below under the Opportunities & Information section.

Alumni Spotlight: Charlene Thayer, MSW ('90)


Charlene Thayer graduated from UNE with her MSW in 1990. In this article she speaks about her work at Elliot Health System where she worked in the Hospice Department.

charlene thayer and familyMedicare & other insurances define hospice as six months or less of life. The word “hospice” comes from the old word “hostel” — places along a traveler’s journey where one could stop for rest, refreshment...and care in the case of illness. Hospice — it’s not a word really. It is a philosophy, a way of incorporating the journey to death in the entire journey of life. 

In 1959, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, a psychiatrist in the United States, spoke of Hospice: “without realizing that they are doing it, medical staff often put dying patients in rooms as far as possible from nursing stations, and health-care workers seem slow to answer their call bells.” Their beds were at the end of the hall, forgotten by medicine, alone, lonely and in pain, considered to be the “failures of medical science.” Her work, along with Dame Cicely Saunders in England, changed the face of working with the dying patients and set the stage for all of us to learn so much about this part of life. (Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communication of the Dying: Maggie Callahan & Patricia Kelley; 1997). 

The primary role of a hospice social worker is to support the patient and/or family through their final journey. It may involve helping with finances, finding “lost loved ones” to say goodbye to; helping with final arrangements such as the Advance Care Directives, a last will and testament; funeral plans; and if the person is religious, calling upon the local spiritual representative. One time, a patient requested a final visit with her son who was in jail. The chaplain and I worked with the warden to make arrangement for said prisoner to visit his mom one last time and say goodbye. What a gift to all of us. 

One of our big duties is pulling the hospice team together to assist with the plan of care. The team works on the basis of treating the person through the Whole Person Approach, not just as a patient. We treat them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

When individuals open themselves and their lives to professionals at this difficult time, it allows us to just be present with them. It is such a privilege to be with them and help them "crossover” whatever “bridge” they use. 

In 1970, there was no hospice. I watched my dear father suffer through his journey. He was at home, yes, but needles of morphine, allowed only every four hours so he wouldn’t become addicted, made the dying process more sufferable than the illness. It was difficult on the family and friends, as well, to hear him in so much pain, and experiencing other uncontrollable symptoms. Thank goodness, today there is so much more medication available to ease symptoms, and so many more options for patient care. 

Hospice works to allow the patient death to occur at home, if so chosen, and with dignity. There may be “palliative care” units at a local hospital. These only provide comfort care and not treatment care. Or there is the option of regional hospice houses (not in every area, however). They are staffed 24/7 and have some space available for family to stay as well. 

For me, the hospice program allowed me to integrate all my social work skills. There was support to be given to fellow team members. Sometimes a patient’s passing was difficult for staff members and for those who had worked so closely with the patient/family that grief had to be processed. There was training to be done not only with the staff to have good listening skills and brief supportive therapy, but training was also offered to new groups of volunteers two times a year. There was teaching of the hospice philosophy, and exercises practiced in listening skills and non-judgmental work. 

Volunteers are a big part of the hospice team. They may be involved in transporting patients to doctor appointments, to chemotherapy, or maybe out for a drive and a nice cup of coffee. They may be assigned to help a family member having an afternoon off for respite while a volunteer sits with the patient. Sometimes too, they may have worked with the volunteer coordinator in the office planning events, preparing mailings, setting up for work shops, etc.

But the deepest part of the work was with the individual — understanding their journey and sitting at the bedside with them. Oh, the peaceful journeys I witnessed. There were, of course, some other not so peaceful ones when an individual would fear death, or not have a good understanding of his/her religion’s belief of the afterlife and how they would struggle. 

I think of one particular special story, however. A woman I worked with had been her church secretary for some 30 years. We had had many talks of what she had learned and witnessed over these years. Her daughter lived in New York and due to work commitments, did not get by frequently. Sitting with the daughter, by her mother’s bedside as the end was near, she heard her mother “talking to people in the room whom we could not see." There was a John, a Peter,and a Paul — the daughter said to me she did not recognize any of these names as family members or friends and she was concerned. “These are the saints that are greeting your mom. Her good and faithful church work provided her contact with them and they will lead her home.”

I have also been witness to some people whose faces seem to glow as they approach the end of life. It was such a privilege to sit by their bedsides and be a part of that journey with them. There wasn’t a situation of a particular religion, but rather everyone’s spiritual belief system. That is what the chaplain on the team focused on, and that was what strengthened my own spiritual belief system. 

In summing up my 15 years in hospice work, I have to say it was the richest and most fulfilling of my 35 years of social work. I hope that some of the future UNE social work students will find a rewarding career in hospice.

Opportunities & Information

Social Work student organization flyercampaign school of northern new england

As mentioned in Jenna Powers' article above, this event is an excellent opportunity to learn about campaign planning, fundraising and running for office, and network with your peers. Sponsored by both the NASW and Maine's schools of social work. It will run October 14 and 15 and will take place on the University of Southern Maine campus. Please see the flyer and/or contact 

student organization meetings!

Hello students! Your Social Work Student Organization (SWO) officers are looking forward to be working alongside all of you to make some great things happen here on campus, and beyond! Please join our meetings, to be held every other Wednesday at noon in the Nor’easter Cafe (near the fireplace). Our first meeting will be held on September 14. We encourage students to come with ideas for events, resources to share with colleagues, and thoughts on how to best advocate both for those we serve and for ourselves. As an organization, we are excited to build a network of support, connection and idea sharing among our student body. We hope to see you at a meeting!


Do you know of an artist or group whose art has a social justice theme? The art can address such themes as poverty, addiction, environment, gun violence, food security and many others! We need new art for the Hersey fourth floor hallway, and perhaps even the hallway near Parker Pavilion! If you, or an artist or group you know, would like to hang their art for a period of two or three months, please contact Lori Power, (207) 221-4493. Many thanks!


If you have graduated from UNE with your MSW two or more years ago, and are interested in a volunteer opportunity that will enhance your skills as a professional social worker, we need you! Our program is full of amazing students who need field instructors for their foundation and advanced field placements. As an alum, you understand the importance of field education and the expectations of students in our MSW program. Our field instructors have flexibility in how field instruction is delivered. You may meet with your student by phone, video conference, or face-to-face. If you'd like to provide field instruction to one or more students, please contact Director of Field Education Kelli Fox. Thank you!

Upcoming Events


The School of Social Work's Applied Arts and Social Justice Certificate, together with Women United Around the World, invite you to view our annual fall art exhibit on view now on the fourth floor of Hersey Hall (Portland campus). Explore a display of colorful fashions made through Women United Around the World sewing classes and enjoy stories of amazing women and their journeys to Maine!

SSW APPLIED ARTS and IPEC PRESENTS 'the mask you live in': documentary showing oct. 5

The Mask You Live In follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. Pressured by the media, their peer group and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.

Experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education and media also weigh in, offering empirical evidence of the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it. The Mask You Live In ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.

Showing will be on Wednesday, October 5, 5-7:30 p.m. in Pharmacy 024/028 (Portland campus). Snacks will be provided.


For more info on the documentary please see the Representation Project website.

Brought to you by the School of Social Work, the UNE Interprofessional Education Collaborative and Maine Boys to Men.

Using the SBIRT screening tool: a collaborative training with Eric Haram

The growing epidemic of substance use in our state is something we are all confronted with on a daily basis, whether through the media, direct interaction or professional practice. This critical public health issue ailing our communities required focus from all possible interprofessional angles with skills and tools, developed and tested by experts in the field. Knowing how to best support clients offers us a window of opportunity to bridge the road to recovery and reduce harm. Doing so in conjunction with other health professionals is a key component in the upcoming training in December at UNE.

Eric Haram, LADC, director of outpatient behavioral health and the network for the improvement of addiction treatment at Mid-Coast Hospital will lead this collaborative training. In the training titled "Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for Substance Use Disorders," Haram will introduce the SBIRT screening tool. SBIRT is a set of evidence-based, clinical guidelines and systematic approach to intervene with individual patients, assisting them to reduce their risk, or to effect referrals to specialty addiction treatment, as appropriate. The training is designed for faculty and health professions students who wish to gain a better understanding of SBIRT for clients and patients who might be at risk for substance use. The training will feature "SBIRT 101,” practical case-based discussions, and the option for interprofessional teams to engage in interactive practice with SBIRT.

The training is scheduled for Friday, December 9, 2016 from 1-4 p.m. in the Finley Gymnasium on the Portland Campus. RSVP to