Mason Service Corps Class: Community Partner Panel

For those of you who haven’t heard of it already, Mason Service Corps is a neat program we run here at the CLCE office. It’s a really great way to satisfy some experiential learning credits while also having a say in how you spend it. Here’s how it works: you pick what community organization you want to volunteer for over the semester (or we help you find one), complete 45 hours for one EL credit or 90 hours for two EL credits, and take NCLC 294 that meets once a week for an hour and a half!

Our MSC class this semester is partnering up with some really incredible community organizations, and we had the privilege of hosting them this past class in a discussion panel. We had two guests, Paula Gaudino from the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, and Kerry Tousignant from Bethany House of Northern Virginia.

Paula Gaudino and Kerry Tousignant

Paula Gaudino and Kerry Tousignant

Paula Gaudino, Director of Health Information Management and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services at the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, actually got her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and later decided to pursue social work. At NVMHI, she keeps track of medical records and works alongside patients who are struggling with mental health issues. Kerry Tousignant is a fairly recent graduate of James Madison University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in social work. She works alongside women, children, and men who are attempting to escape abusive relationships and are seeking a safe environment.

I personally really admire social workers because like Paula and Kerry, their jobs can be incredibly difficult. The situations social workers deal with on a day to day basis, such as taking care of someone with a terminal illness, a child who has suffered from abuse, or a young adult dealing with serious mental issues, can be really tough to swallow. That said, one thing that Paula and Kerry mentioned was that one of the most important skills to have in social work is to not get too consumed with your compassion for others; it’s vital to your own self sustainability and well-being to take time for yourself. Not only will you be a healthier you, but you will be more efficient at your work!

Social workers are a vital part of our community; think about all of the services they provide! Child and family services, mental health work, occupational therapy, hospice care, and the list goes on. So many people would be without hope if not for the social workers giving care to those in our communities who are in the greatest need of assistance. And despite how difficult their jobs can be, they are still there doing what they love best: selflessly serving those in great need!

-Mimi Fuerst



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