Stephen F. Austin State University celebrated national social worker's month Tuesday. The school of social work awarded KTRE's own Donna McCollum for her dedication and passion for working with the community. Social workers in the Nacogdoches community like James Montoya were also honored to reflect how significant social work month is in East Texas.
"It validates what I do as far as social work. I'm a firm believer that somebody has to have somebody to care for them. I don't do it because it's a job; I do it because it comes from my heart," James Montoya said.
A few years ago, Montoya was awarded social worker of the year for the state of Texas.
Covering stories on those who empower people to make the right decision like Montoya are an example of the types of stories KTRE's Donna McCollum enjoys.
"I think you can be a social worker without having the title," McCollum said. "If you care about the person who is down and out and you might be able to help them, I think you're a social worker. I don't know why, but I gravitate toward people and stories who do that."
She was awarded the social work media award Tuesday for her concern and passion for the people of East Texas.
"Her stories communicate information and provide information that focus on populations that are sometimes ignored by mainstream society because their voice will not be heard; and she traveled all these rural back roads to make that happen," Dr. Avant, school of social work director, said.
Currently, graduate and undergrad students are working in San Augustine for a county wide needs assessment that includes focus groups.
"We've had two focus groups now with youth between the age of 18 and 30, and students come back and they are so excited," Emmerentie Oliphant, master's of social work director, said.
Students' excitement lingers from their passion to have the communities concerns heard. Oliphant says it's a chance for them to learn how to do research in a community and county opposed to learning about the population in class. The assessment also includes focus groups who work with the elderly.