Margaret Andrews is executive director St. Francis-St. Vincent Homes for Children, an agency of archdiocesan Catholic Social Services that provides campus and community-based residential treatment and group homes to dependent, neglected, delinquent or emotionally troubled boys and girls.
She spoke with Courtney Flach during National Social Worker Month in March. Andrews earned her master’s of social work (MSW) degree from Temple University.
Q. How would you describe your current role with Catholic Social Services?
A. I was recently appointed to this position in January. Prior I was a case manager director for our CUA (Community Umbrella Agency in Philadelphia) for five years. I see my role as one part of the larger child welfare system of Catholic Social Services. In my position I work collaboratively with other programs; whether that is referring youth to Step Down to our Foster Care program or working with our CUA and having them doing Life Skills groups with our youth.
No one program can stand alone. We need the support and knowledge of others to enhance our program needs.
Q. What does a day in your position look like?
A. My day is never the same. My normal days consist of many meetings that focus on program development, administrative duties, addressing concerns. The days I enjoy are when I can spend time with the youth we serve.
That could be over at the school interacting with them while playing basketball in the gym or having a focus group on how we can improve our services or just sitting in my office talking about their day because they were in the building for another reason and stopped by. Regardless of my title, my foundation comes from being a social worker.
Q. What inspired you to become a social worker?
A. My decision to be a social worker came from my desire to help others. I really didn’t know what a social worker did until I became one. I started off as an accounting major and knew that wasn’t for me. And I spoke to a career counselor who asked me what do I like to do, and that is how I ended up a social worker because I wanted to help others and make a difference in someone’s life.
Q. What is the most rewarding thing about the social work profession?
A. The best part about being a social worker is making a difference in a person’s life. Over my career I have had many positions and assisted families in many ways. When you see the joy in a family’s face when their child/children are reunited or when a family adopts a youth, there is nothing more rewarding.
The connections you make with youth are not always just when you are working with them. When you get a random message from a youth you worked with many years ago and they just wanted to let you know how they are doing, that is your reward.
Q. Are you a product of Catholic education within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which schools did you attend and how did your Catholic education prepare you to be a servant leader?
A. My education was rooted in the archdiocese. I attended St. John of the Cross, Roslyn, now closed and Bishop McDevitt, Wyncote, now closed.
I would say that the foundation of my servant leadership began at home. Being the youngest of six children and watching my parents volunteer for different programs in our church and watching my siblings actively involved in CYO made me aware and reinforced the importance of helping others in any way possible.
I believe my education allowed me opportunities to grow and challenge myself to practice what was taught and show compassion for others.
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