Sarah Petela, 2nd year Policy Practice student was recently elected to serve as MSW representative of the National Board of Directors of NASW. In her new role, Sarah will represent MSW student members of NASW and facilitate communication between students and the National Board. This a great honor for Sarah, the Policy Practice concentration, the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work, the School and the University.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national foundation working to improve outcomes for at-risk children, announced its 2010-2011 Children and Family Fellowship class. Heidi McIntosh, MSW ’98 was 1 of 18 professionals selected for this prestigious fellowship. The Casey Foundation created the Children and Family Fellowship “to increase the pool of leaders with the vision, drive, and ability to create and sustain major system reforms and community initiatives that benefit large numbers of children and families.”
McIntosh has been the Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families since 1994. Prior to that, she worked for the federal Administration for Children and Families and focused her work on its Child and Family Services Review process that has assisted many states, including Connecticut, improve the quality of their child welfare practice.
The 20-month fellowship, which began in May, offers the opportunity for professional development through executive seminars and site visits to learn about innovative agencies and organizations across the country. In addition, resources to apply effective service delivery modes are also offered as part of the fellowship, which will allow Heidi to focus on specific program improvement initiatives at DCF.
University of Connecticut School of Social Work alumnus Pedro E. Segarra (MSW ’82, JD ’85) was sworn in as the new Mayor of Hartford on Friday, June 25th. He took the oath of office minutes after the resignation of former Mayor Eddie Perez. Segarra, the former City Council President, will hold the mayor’s seat until the next election in November 2011.
Pedro Segarra was born in the small rural town of Maricao, Puerto Rico. At age 7 his family moved to the Bronx, New York in search of better opportunities. When he was 15 he moved to Hartford seeking a better life, and has been a Hartford resident ever since. After graduating from Greater Hartford Community College, where he was a founding member of the Latino Student Organization, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Hartford where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Political Science.
He was then admitted to the University of Connecticut Graduate School of Social Work and received a Master of Social Work in 1982. After graduating from
the School of Social Work he attended the UConn Law School and graduated in 1985 and passed the Connecticut bar the same year. While in law school, Pedro was a founding member of the Latino Law Student Organization and became the organization’s first President. He is currently admitted to the Connecticut state and federal bars (1986) and the Bar of the State of Florida (2000).
In 1991, Pedro Segarra was appointed Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford, the youngest person ever selected for the position at that time and appointed for the position for three consecutive terms. At the present time he is the managing partner of the Hartford Law Office of Segarra & López and resides in Hartford with his partner. He is also a founding member of Hogar Crea, The Hispanic Health Council and CLARO.
Celia Alamo, MSW ’07, was recognized by her employer, Hartford Hospital, in their 2008-09 Community Benefit Report. The publication highlighted the many people and programs that are committed to the health and well being of the community. Among the many things that Celia does, she runs a support group for Latina women living with HIV. Alamo says, “They are just human beings with a disease like any other, and they need to be hugged, loved, and supported.”
Cultural, socioeconomic, and health-related factors have contributed to a high incidence of HIV in the country’s Hispanic/Latino community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hartford’s large Latino community is no exception, and many of those living with HIV are women.
“Many women with HIV were infected through heterosexual relations with husbands or people they’re in committed, long-term relationships with,” says social worker Celia Alamo, MSW, who runs Hartford Hospital’s support group for Latina women living with HIV. “They are just human beings with a disease like any other, and they need to be hugged, loved and supported.”
The support group meets twice a month for about two hours. Some activities focus on improving participants’ physical health—adhering to medication regimens, keeping medical appointments, learning about good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, for example. But it’s also designed to enhance the women’s mental and emotional health. The women are encouraged to identify their personal barriers to optimal functioning, take care of themselves, support each other and discuss the challenges they
face as Latina women with HIV.
Ms. Alamo helps participants build the coping skills necessary to meet the hard challenges of their illness, learn to spot and manage the warning signs of depression and anxiety, and improve their self-esteem. Arts projects give participants a chance to express themselves creatively and take pride in new
accomplishments. She helps them identify and access community resources and encourages them to strengthen their connections with family members and friends.
Having a support group especially for Latina women is important, Ms. Alamo says.
“It’s not enough to be bilingual. You need to understand their culture and why they do what they do,” she says, in order to help them become healthier and stronger.
Latina women tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own and not take as good care of themselves as they should. Ms. Alamo encourages participants to do little things to “spoil themselves” and share them with the group. Latino culture is also very physically expressive, with hugging and kissing the norm. Unfortunately, myths about how HIV is spread are common, and Latina women often hide their disease, fearing that they’ll be isolated. This makes it hard to develop a support system or ask for help.
While providing support is the focus of the group, it’s not its only goal. As Ms. Alamo says, “I want to see these women become strong and independent and go on to lead groups and share with others all that they have learned.”