Social work breaks barriers
By Najja R. Orr, MBA, DBA, PCA president & CEO
I started my career in social services more than 20 years ago, working with behavioral health consumers and children. At the time, my grandmother’s health started failing. She and I were always close, and I saw what she went through. When she passed, I decided to dedicate my career and time to supporting older adults.
I wanted to be there for any other loved one in my life, and for that matter, any older person navigating the very complex long-term services and supports system. I wanted to be there for them and make the system better. So, in 2002, I started working at Bucks County Area Agency on Aging as a care manager. I was fortunate to become the agency’s director in 2011. It was then that I began collaborating with Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). I started at PCA in 2017 as Chief Strategy Officer and assumed my current role as President and CEO in April 2020.
Social work is an amazing, helping profession that makes connections for those who need assistance. And I am so humbled to work with such a tremendous group of caring and supportive individuals at PCA, who are dedicated to its mission of improving the quality of life for older Philadelphians and people with disabilities and assisting them in achieving their maximum level of health, independence and productivity.
PCA joins the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in recognizing National Social Work Month in March 2023. NASW selected “Social Work Breaks Barriers” as this year’s theme because social workers are the frontline staff who navigate societal and systemic challenges to provide individuals with the resources they need to thrive within their communities.
“The primary mission of social work is to enhance human well-being and help meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty. Social workers are dedicated to seeking complete equality and social justice for all communities and helping people achieve their own potential. Each day, social workers help break down barriers that prevent people from living more fulfilling, enriched lives. They work on the individual level, helping people overcome personal crises, like food insecurity, lack of affordable housing, or limited access to good health care.”
~ National Association of Social Workers
Social work is empowerment. Social work is comfort. Social work is advocacy, especially for those who are unable to or unsure of how to advocate for themselves.
Each year, PCA helps thousands of older Philadelphians and adults living with disabilities to use their strengths and available resources to live their best, most independent lives.
Every day, PCA tries to break down barriers to ensure that we do our part to support all older adults, especially those who are victims of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and abandonment. Our goal is to eliminate elder abuse entirely.
Together, we can honor social workers by making sure that we have adequate resources to meet the needs of a growing older adult population in Philadelphia. PCA will persist in removing barriers to improve the lives and preserve the dignity of those we serve.