By Lori Blumenstein-Bott, LMSW, Executive Director, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety
March is Social Work month, which gives me an opportunity to reflect on my 30 plus years in this field. Throughout my career I have enjoyed a wide variety of the types of work that fall under the title “Social Worker.” Through each iteration, one constant theme emerges for me; everything must be focused on making a difference in people’s lives. Social Workers cleave to a heart and soul investment in their clients, organizations and people in general.
In 2011, I met Jeff Kukes. He shared the story of his son Andy and his vision for a Foundation to both honor Andy’s contributions and assure that no other family would experience such a deep and devastating loss. I immediately empathized with Jeff’s mission-driven spirit and so began a collaborative investment that has continued to develop over time.
Andy’s mom, Patty Kukes also shared her story,which resonated with me both as a professional and as a mother. The family spent many years seeking the right diagnosis and treatments. She watched her son slowly slip away as each promise of a positive outcome proved empty.
For many social workers who share the frustration experienced by families and sufferers, the lack of resources can be deeply felt. It is apparent to me that the Foundation’s mission and unique focus are essential in making a difference, both for families and treating professionals.
Every day, I meet people that are empowered by the Foundation’s work. We continue in our search for better treatment and improved education about Social Anxiety. I am privileged to work with many organizations, universities and practitioners who are like-minded and passionate. Social workers do not seek personal recognition; rather we are nourished by improved lives for the people we serve. I am grateful to be a part of this movement and profession.