Social Work Month Recognition 2021

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Social Workers are Essential

Social Workers Are Essential

Since 1984, March has been recognized as National Social Work Month. This year's theme is "Social Workers are Essential." This theme is very much on-trend, especially during these challenging times. This year, the Department of Human Services recognizes the dedication and selflessness of social workers throughout Somerset County. Through the Social Work Month Recognition Contest, we asked the community to consider nominating social workers who continuously impact our communities through their work.  As leaders, these honorees exemplify hard-work, advocacy, and compassion. Here at Somerset County, we thank you for your commitment and all that you do!

Social Work Month Honorees 2021

Updated on 03/19/2021 10:23 AM


S. McClellan Photo

 "Sharon uses a person centered approach to all of her work and trainings and works to advocate for the best quality of life for those she serves. Sharon is often the point of contact with physicians, psychologist, clinics and specialists for our service recipients and she promotes coordinated care to ensure the best treatment options. Over the past few years, the individuals we have served have presented with multiple complex diagnosis both medical and psychiatric. Sharon’s skills and knowledge have allowed us to serve these individuals who are often discharged from other provider agencies due to the unique and often challenging care needs. This ensures that our citizens with disabilities, regardless of the nature and complexity will still have the opportunity to enjoy community living in the place they call home. Sharon is a tenacious advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities and as the leader of our Human Rights committee, she promotes self advocacy among our service population and forward thinking among her colleagues and Arc leadership. We applaud, Sharon’s work and success in enhancing the quality of life for the over 350 adults with disability that we serve."

J. Fetzko Photo


 “Joanne has been and continues to be a huge champion for the older adults in Somerset County. One of the things Joanne has advocated and collaborated with Walter Lane in the County’s Planning Division to develop Somerset County as an Age-Friendly community. Through all the challenges presented during this past year, Joanne tirelessly collaborated with her team and all county divisions to deliver services and care to the older adults living in Somerset County. Even in the most challenging times, Joanne doesn’t let roadblocks stop her efforts.”




 "Christina goes out of her way to stay in touch with our frail clients, and even with clients who are healthy but are going through stressful times in their lives.  Our clients are all extremely comfortable with Christina, and know that they can rely on her.  The staff at our senior wellness center are always happy to hear from Christina, and are confident that she will have the answer to any of our questions.  Christina looks after the needs of so many seniors in the county, and treats them all as individuals.  The Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services truly benefits from Christina’s expertise and patience, proving just how essential she is!"



"Alyssa Martini, executive director of HOME of Somerset County, started with the agency as college intern and has led the nonprofit through the COVID-19 pandemic and reorganization seamlessly. Her creative solutions, dedication to clients and staff, and commitment to justice is admired by the board, clients and peers."




  L. Dias Photo

 "I wish to recognize LuAnn Dias, Service Area Director at Catholic Charities, for the energy, passion and looking ahead to find ways to address the needs of the people living with the greatest needs in Somerset County. LuAnn is always engaged, interested in learning and collaborating with other agencies and partners to best serve the needs of our community. LuAnn’s focus, drive and passion makes her essential!"



Cosku Taalu Picture





 Cosku Taalu, LCSW, thought he was on a path to a career in IT until an internship with a special needs organization. Now, he describes a successful day with Alternatives as any time he is able to help a client learn that they have the capacity to improve and make their day better than when they started.”










"Lisa Buckwalter, MSW, LSW Director of Services, has been with Alternatives since 2007 and earned her MSW while working full time as an Assistant Manager. Lisa’s dedication to helping her clients reach their goals is evident in everything she does. She recognizes their strengths instead of letting their disability define them.” 



  "Genna Rutka, LSW is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Coastal and Northern NJ’s Program Manager for Somerset County. As a colleague and friend, Genna inspires me in her ability to tirelessly advance BBBS’s mission to ignite the potential of youth across our service area. Genna approaches each professional interaction with heart and positivity, and makes time to ensure she is able to connect on an individual level with all of our clientele. Her capacity to do good and be an agent of positive change in our community spills over to our whole team and makes BBBSCNNJ a better agency for it! I have witnessed Genna drive over the state to ensure that families received their donated gifts on time for the holidays, deliver donated groceries to families to make sure they did not go hungry, provide a shoulder to cry on for families who have lost loved-ones, and so many other things that brought light during dark times. Genna can be counted on to keep spreading that light, and for this I was hoping to acknowledge her to show our appreciation." 

Honorable Mention 

N. Newton Photo



 "Nancy goes oveand above what is ever expected of someone in her position. She is a hard worker, organized to a tee, and so very kind.  We have missed her dearly this past year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic."