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15 Inspirational Quotes for Social Workers

Three pairs of hands piled up

Social work is founded on noble purposes and provides rewards that can sometimes seem short or insufficient in the face of challenging circumstances. We’ve come up with 15 quotes that are sure to inspire social workers in need of some encouragement.

1) Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Social workers are a part of the few who do care. They care about social injustices committed every day, across the globe—behind closed doors and out in the open. They are the ones who care enough to believe they can make the world a better place.

2) It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.
- Dalai Lama

Action begins with a desire. Naturally, heartfelt compassion leads to action. The vulnerable and disadvantaged in this world need more than pity—they need to see love operate selflessly and sacrificially.

3) I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
- Edward Everett Hale

It’s a case of “glass half full” vs. “glass half empty.” Studying and observing the problem rather than working toward a solution is a fruitless endeavor. Social workers conduct research, create strategies to solve social issues, and play their role as part of the solution.

4) Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

All social workers are created equal. And all social workers are created different. Together, the differences form a harmony singing a well-orchestrated melody. The beauty is in the harmony.

5) The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.
- Gordon B. Hinckley

It’s much easier to forget your personal woes when you’re serving the needs of those around you. For social workers, the needs can be overwhelming. But regardless of the results, the career rewards are intangible.

6) As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Every now and then, we meet younger versions of ourselves. We see the mistakes they are making today and wish we could set them straight. For social workers, their lives are intertwined with those they are serving. They discover more and more about themselves every day as they learn to help those around them.

7) It is not your job to save everyone. Some people are not even ready to be helped. Focus on being of service to those who are, and be wise and humble enough to know when the best service you can offer is to guide them toward help in another direction.
- Anna Taylor

The temptation to transform into a superhero social worker is inviting, yet unrealistic. Piles of paperwork list names, dates, and difficult situations, but not all can be attended to in one day. Sometimes it’s best to just ask for help.

8) How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
- Anne Frank

The clock is ticking, and not one minute can be relived. A social worker is pulled in a million directions. And each minute is lived to the fullest.

9) I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.
- Lily Tomlin

That somebody can be a social worker, a compassionate soul, or an aspiring world changer. Social workers realize now is the time to act.

10) Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.
- Mother Teresa

There was and will be only one Mother Teresa. But can’t all social workers choose to love just as greatly?

11) There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
- Elie Wiesel

Social workers dare to speak what has not yet been said. They dare to challenge the powerful and intimidating. They might sometimes fail to protect the innocent and vulnerable, but they refuse to stay silent.

12) You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.
- Rosa Parks

“Firsts” are always frightening. First steps, first failure, first success. But for social workers, fear is a sign that they are making progress on the road less traveled.

13) Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
- Proverbs 31:8

More often than not, victims of trauma lack the words to express their grief and fear. Social workers recognize the need and are the first to respond. They are the ones who will speak hope into the hearts of the hurting.

14) We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.
- Mother Teresa

The world can seem like a big, scary place for children, troubled teens, abused women, and homeless individuals. A safer, more protective home begins with one person, in one home.

15) Be the change you wish to see in the world.
- Mahatma Gandhi

It’s easy to point out the flaws and imperfections present all around us. It’s much more difficult to look inward and decide to change ourselves. The first step is always your own.


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