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15 Inspirational Quotes for Social Workers

July 29, 2018

The social work profession is a noble one. It offers rewards even in the face of challenging circumstances. Following are quotes for social workers that can inspire you when you seek encouragement and renewed purpose:

Social Work Quotes

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
— Helen Keller, U.S. author, educator, and disability rights advocate

Social workers have worked hard and studied for years to become competent professionals who work to empower individuals and communities. Collaborating with other social workers and being part of interdisciplinary units can help in many ways. Social workers value interpersonal relationships, teamwork, and trust. By sharing their experiences with one another, social workers can share in the celebrations and challenges of their work.

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, award-winning New Zealand fiction author

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. Asking for help is best.

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, U.S. author, historian, and clergyman, best remembered for his short story in support of the Union’s Civil War effort, “A Man Without a Country”

Focusing on strengths is always important in social work. Studying and observing the problem rather than working with others toward a solution is a fruitless endeavor. Social workers conduct research, create strategies to resolve social issues and play their role as part of the solution.

Speak up if you want to bring change to the world.
— Dr. DaShanne Spokes, U.S. author, progressive activist, and Native American rights advocate

More often than not, survivors 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 can speak hope into the hearts of the hurting.

The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.
— Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States

Every human contributes to the world in some way, whether through positive or negative actions. Social workers can contribute goodness and light, helping people see hope rather than despair. In turn, they can have hope for positive outcomes in their own lives.

I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.
— Oprah Winfrey, U.S. television personality, actor, and entrepreneur

Social workers directly serve many individuals who have walked through traumatic experiences and deal with a lot of fear. As such, they can be examples of how to choose hope over fear, love over hatred, and forgiveness over retaliation.

Human Service Quotes

The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.
— Gordon B. Hinckley, U.S. author and religious leader

Forgetting your personal woes is easier 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.

Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.
— Mother Teresa, or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, a nun, missionary and founder of The Order of the Missionaries of Charity

Small successes are successes all the same. When actions are guided by love, compassion, and a focus on the inherent dignity and worth of all people, those actions become great.

As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf, German aviator, airline executive, and religious leader

Every now and then, we meet younger versions of ourselves. We see the mistakes they are making today and wish we could set them on an alternative path. Social workers are invested in the lives of those they are serving. They discover more and more about themselves every day as they learn to help those around them.

You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.
— Rosa Parks, U.S. civil rights activist

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

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, or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, a nun, missionary and founder of The Order of the Missionaries of Charity

The world can seem like a big, scary place for people who are going through traumatic events and people who are experiencing homelessness. A safer, more protective home begins with one person, in one home.

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, U.S. lecturer, poet and essayist who popularized New England Transcendentalism

Social workers have a very fulfilling career — helping people get through difficult situations and find their way to physical, mental, and emotional recovery.

Social Change Quotes

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
— The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel, U.S. children’s author, political cartoonist and filmmaker

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.

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.
— Angela Davis, U.S. political activist, academic and author

While sitting back and accepting things for what they are seems easier, social workers don’t do that. They actively make the decision to be involved in social change. They are leaders in their field, fighting for the rights of historically underserved and underrepresented individuals.

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.
— Dalai Lama, Lhamo Thondup, 14th Dalai Lama, or highest spiritual leader, Tibet

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.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.
— Lily Tomlin, U.S. actress, comedian, writer and producer

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

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, U.S. writer, professor, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor

Social workers dare to speak what has not yet been said. They dare to challenge the powerful, intimidating, and unjust. They refuse to stay silent; they question the status quo. Just because something has always been a certain way doesn’t mean it’s right or just. Social workers fight for justice.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandhi, lawyer, political ethicist and social activist, India

Pointing out the flaws and imperfections present all around us is easy. Looking inward and deciding to change ourselves is more difficult. The first step is always your own.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
— Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States

Social workers have the education, experience, and skills necessary to initiate the change they want to see. They can have a tangible impact on the people they serve.

If people were silent, nothing would change.
— Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Pakistan

While many people may desire change in their own lives and in the communities where they live, only those who are brave enough to speak out and take action will truly see change.

Pursue a Career in Social Work

If you are not currently in this field but are looking to pursue a career that contributes to people’s lives in positive ways, consider earning an Online Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University.