We are celebrating School Social Work Week and we are very excited to highlight Laura Ilardo, an amazing school Social Worker that carries the values and mission of the social work profession not only through her impactful work with youth, but also through her humanitarian work in the community!
Thank you, Laura for sharing with us a little about the wonderful work you do!
"Being a social worker is not a 9-5 job, it really is part of who I am and what I stand for"
I have always known that I wanted to be a helper since I was a child. Not until college did the idea of social work as a profession become a reality. I worked in Tucson at a crisis nursery and the Executive Director was a social worker (and an amazing human being). That gave me some direction to explore getting my Masters degree in Social Work. I studied at the University of Michigan and received my Master's there in 1995. I worked with homeless teenagers for several years in Ann Arbor before returning to Arizona where I began working with teens in a public high school. I've been a school social worker for the past 18 years. I received my LCSW in 2004.
On my "free time" I'm an advocate for immigrant rights and a justice worker.
I always tell people that my day job I'm a school social worker - working with all the high school students on issues they're struggling with daily: family, personal, friend issues, depression, suicide, anxiety, homelessness. Mostly I provide crisis support for our students, but often am the only resource for mental health care for our students and families. On my "free time" I'm an advocate for immigrant rights and a justice worker. I co-founded a humanitarian aid group called No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes where we provide aid to migrants crossing the US/Mexico desert. More recently, I opened a free community clinic helping immigrants apply for DACA, help with asylum applications and offer deportation relief for those facing removal. And finally, I currently help organize a volunteer-run collective that that works with people of conscience to build a network of mutual support with those being detained and recently released from immigration detention.
It's important for me to share with you that..
As far as being a school social worker, I LOVE working with teenagers. While they can be quite challenging at times, I find that they're also really authentic. They are creative, energetic, hopeful, open to new experiences and incredibly resilient people! It can be exhausting, but they're worth it!
You can learn more and get involved too
If anyone wants to know more about being a school social worker or are interested in any of the immigrant rights work, please email me!
Want to connect with Laura?
Laura is particularly Interested in medical/public health, mental and behavioral health, community services, school/education and child development, child welfare, homelessness, nutrition and access to quality foods, environment and sustainability, social justice and criminal system reform, women’s health and reproductive justice, LGBTQ community, Immigration and asylum seeking community.
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