Making a difference: four social work students look at the changes they hope to make in the community

Spotlight on Kim Haubner: The homeless are people too

My name is Kim Haubner and I am a third year, master of social work student at Northern Kentucky University. The MSW field program is a spectacular supplement to class work. Last semester, I was given the opportunity to work at the Jimmy Heath House in the Over-The-Rhine. Providing chronically homeless individuals with safe and adequate housing, they are based on the “Housing First” model, which maintains that the chronically homeless can become stable faster when homelessness is eliminated.

There is some resistance from nearby residents, because even though alcohol use is discouraged and efforts are made to decrease use, it is still allowed. Working with these individuals has been an interesting and challenging experience. This semester, I hope to capitalize on the idea of housing people to help build stability in their lives and ultimately foster strength in the community. Having already begun building rapport with the staff at the Drop Inn Center and City Gospel Mission, I am excited to expand my work to outreach efforts within the community.

So many people in these shelters remain chronically homeless because they don’t have the resources to maintain housing or have never learned how to live independently. It has been incredibly rewarding for me to listen to their stories – really listen and use what I have learned from their lives to help improve their overall quality of life. My NKU training and experience has allowed me to actually impact lives in our community.


Spotlight on Lori Mangan: Past ‘Northerner’ viewpoints editor and journalist now a social worker

As an NKU alumnus with a Bachelor’s in journalism, I wrote about Greater Cincinnati Area social issues in my professional career. I then decided that I wanted to be a part of addressing those social issues. Before entering the Master of Social Work Program, never would I have imagined that during an internship, I would help 400+ children, publish journal articles to shape future social work practice, and lecture to other social work students.

Last semester, I conducted a research study funded by an NKU graduate studies grant where I interviewed principals from urban public high schools that had “turned things around.” I did this in order to find commonalities in these improved schools. I wanted to know what their secrets were, and I found out! I also began writing two research articles in anticipation of publishing this study in professional journals. In addition, I lectured and assisted in social work and teacher education courses about human behavior theories and grant writing. This semester, I have used the hidden gems I found at those urban public high schools to provide a local high school with a survey for their 400+ students to take in order to measure progress being made there. As new practices continue or are started at this local high school, the school will continue to use the survey to see how students are adjusting.

I am conducting this research study in preparation of presenting to other school professionals and in preparing for a doctorate involving the intersection of social work and education. Presenting and publishing are important because both allow professionals to share new information with other professionals.

Lastly, I will be lecturing in social work and teacher education courses at NKU and would like to continue to share my enthusiasm for social change through teaching in the future. Stop by the NKU Celebration for Student Research and Creativity April 15 to find out what I revealed in those improved schools and to see the results of the survey from one of our local schools!


Spotlight on: Megan Gerber: Master Social Work third-year

Last semester I began my placement at Caracole, Inc., furthering my experience within the HIV/AIDS field. Caracole’s mission is to provide safe and affordable housing and supportive services for both individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families. I worked on employment skills with clients, observed home visits and completed administrative tasks (including updating an agency resource guide and editing a transitional housing handbook).

I had the opportunity to present on HIV testing to a class of nursing students at UC as part of a larger presentation on Caracole’s mission and needs. I have consulted with case managers on select client populations, registered clients for Cincinnati’s public housing wait list and assisted with Affordable Care Act applications. Citizenship applications, Hepatitis C seminars and ongoing chemical dependency training and HIV test administration have also been a part of my practicum experience.

This semester I am splitting my time between Caracole’s main offices and its transitional housing site. I’m continuing my work on creating an employment/life skills handbook as well as a framework for future tenant-landlord workshops. The agency’s aim is to provide clients with the skills and resources to find and maintain stable housing and to efficiently navigate the current job market. At the residential site I will be leading groups and providing individual counseling and support. I am really looking forward to having more individual work with clients and learning the ropes at the residence.


Spotlight on Faye Perkins: Master Social Work student making a difference in veteran’s lives                                                                        

Women Veterans are the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population, and they face unique medical and mental health issues. As an intern in the Women’s Health Program at VA Healthcare System of Ohio, I have been fortunate to participate in multiple meaningful projects that improve healthcare for women Veterans.

I researched trauma-related issues impacting women Veterans, such as domestic violence and military sexual trauma. In coordinating our agency’s breast cancer awareness event, I developed leadership skills and utilized relationship-based care principles to improve agency culture and positively impact patient care. Perhaps the most exciting project I have led was an assessment of current practices and efforts to improve patient-centered care for Veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

This has resulted in the development of a practice council for VA LGBT Coordinators across the state of Ohio, which I will facilitate. In the upcoming months, I will shadow social workers in various programs within the VA in order to understand the diverse roles of social workers in health care. The Cincinnati VA’s nationally recognized Trauma Recovery Center has offered me the opportunity to observe and give input to improving therapeutic groups.

I am collaborating on an ongoing basis with the VA’s National LGBT Coordinators, to make our state a leader in serving all who have served. It is my hope that my internship not only provides me with a rich learning experience, but positively impacts care for Veterans within the VA Healthcare System of Ohio.