At Catholic Charities we are fortunate to have great leaders dedicated to the providing hope to New Yorker’s in need.
Today, in this final week of Social Work Month, we invite you to meet another of our case workers, learn what she does and find out why she finds her career rewarding.
Deb Presti, LCSW – Director of Catholic Charities Case Management
Q: How long have you worked in social work?
A: 35 years
Q: What does Social Work mean to you?
A: Social Work means an ability to look at individuals in need (whatever that need might be) through a non-judgmental lens. It is about being able to create an ambience of warmth and acceptance so that individuals feel safe to tell you their story, not just the story they believe they ought to tell, but the one they believe they need to conceal. This concealment is usually from others first, but often from themselves.
It is helping people cope with extraordinarily difficult circumstances that life delivers and being able to make the necessary adjustments (if possible) in order to successfully cope. Social Work assumes that we all function within a complex bio-psychosocial sphere, meaning our own psychology, social and familial circumstances, biology, and our spot in the world.
This is why I love it. No one gets pigeon holed. Everyone is understood through that complex lens and so the helping should take place in consideration of all of those factors.
There are many who are not social workers who have this natural inclination, but there is no other field that makes it its priority, teaches it, and helps refine skills around it.
It is also extremely compatible with Catholic Social Teachings despite that it can be viewed as secular Social Justice.
Social work is my life as much as my family is my life.
Q: What do you like most about your career?
A: Well, it suits me –who I was as a little girl, and who I have always been. I am grateful that I was never pushed to be something other than what I was deep inside from early on.
I had an epiphany when I was about 55 years old, that the seeds were planted in me by the sisters in my school as well as my parents. My father was the first social worker I ever met (although he was actually an electrician, he was what one might call a “do-gooder.”)
So what I am trying to say is that I am very grateful that my path to be myself in my career was an easy one. I am doing what I was set to do…and few people can make that claim.