Celebrating Social Worker's Month

Celebrating National Social Workers’ Month – PLAN Service Coordinator Valerie Vernon

Date posted: March 10, 2023

Since 1963, March has been recognized as National Social Work Month, in honor of the tireless workers who break down barriers and help people access critical services across our society. At PLAN, social workers are integral to our mission of helping people with disabilities preserve their assets and live full, dignified lives.

Our team of social workers, also known as service coordinators, form a fundamental part of our trustee-beneficiary relationship, helping our beneficiaries create plans for their funds, access their benefits, and generally navigate the challenges of living with one or more disabilities.

Today, we are celebrating Valerie Vernon, LSW, who has been with the organization for nearly five years. As a Licensed Social Worker, Valerie brings significant experience working in nonprofits and with high-risk families and children, drawn from her time with PLAN, her training and her time with Catholic Charities in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

In addition to her social work experience, Valerie is also a talented financial professional, with 20 years of experience working in auditing and public safety for the Commonwealth.

Valerie recalls some of her most memorable experiences from among the hundreds of trust beneficiaries she’s served in her time at PLAN:

“There was a woman, the first beneficiary ever assigned to me, who had a third-party trust and was living with multiple sclerosis. I worked very closely with her and her accountant, who was also a friend. She had challenges with budget and with the alimony that was deposited into her trust, which we helped her resolve.

But the really satisfying part was the relationship – she really did like to call me, she relied on our services, and she looked at me as more of a friend. I allowed that because I knew she was vulnerable and estranged from her family and I was one of her supports.

When she moved into long-term care, I felt an obligation and a desire to visit her regularly. She benefited from that so much, and I did as well.”

It’s stories like this that show the importance of social workers, both at PLAN and in our society at large. So many people around us are vulnerable, both physically and financially, and social workers help bridge the gaps that separate them. Efforts like Valerie’s don’t just help people living with disabilities secure their assets without losing vital benefits, they also enrich lives and forge meaningful, lifelong connections.

In a society where people with disabilities already face enormous barriers and inequality, we at PLAN are proud to provide our beneficiaries access to the social workers we celebrate this March. We can’t thank them enough for the challenging and vital work that they perform day in and day out.