By Shay Stinson
In celebration of National Social Work Month, I reached out to one of Seraaj Family Homes, Inc.’s former and most influential social workers and present mentors, Tracy Pressley, LICSW. Pressley has reached back into the social work community and influenced change. She has played a huge role in training SFH staff and selecting interns for our agency, as well as consulting with staff on cases. Pressley has always been a part of the SFH family for decades.
Currently, you can find her on the campus of Alabama State University or spending quality time with her family in her hometown of Montgomery, Ala. We caught up with her via text messages and emails, as she is always on the go.
Stinson: Tell me about your history with SFH and what you’re up to now.
Pressley: I am currently employed full-time with Alabama State University (ASU) as an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work. I am also a social work consultant for (SFH). I have been a licensed social worker for 33 years. I began my tenure with SFH in 1994 as a part-time family support worker. I came on board full-time with SFH in 1998 as a licensing social worker and eventually as the lead social worker and policy administrator. I returned to part-time employment with the agency in 2007 as a consultant. I have been directly involved with SFH for 21 years.
Stinson: What has been your greatest reward/moment as a social worker?
Pressley: As a social worker, by far the two things that have been my greatest joy and sense of purpose are the years I have spent working at SFH working with children, birth families and foster parents, and the time I have spent at ASU educating and preparing the next generations of social work practitioners. I have been able to apply my experiences and what I learned at SFH to my instruction in the academy and often reference the agency’s successes with families.
Stinson: What is your outlook on the future of social work and the use of technology to deliver services?
Pressley: Social Work is a fast-growing profession particularly in the areas of gerontology and military social work. Unfortunately, there is always a need for practitioners in the field of child welfare. As society changes, particularly in the area of technology, the profession has to adapt as well. We live in a global community and technology provides the opportunity for us to provide services and interventions efficiently to more individuals, families, groups, and communities. It also gives colleges and universities the ability to provide training and distance learning programs, which increases the number of social workers being prepared to meet the needs of our communities and most vulnerable populations globally.
Stinson: Any message for a new social worker?
Pressley: Please, remember that you are a part of an amazing and honorable profession. Part of our mission is to serve others and to be a voice for those who often do not have one. So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and unappreciated, just remember why you entered the profession of social work and what you have been called to do—serve.