Honor Society Receives Community Recognition For Their Volunteer Work

Members pose for a picture for the 20th Annual Domestic Violence Workshop "No More Broken Hearts" on Feb. 29, 2020. Photos provided by Jodi Szabo, Vice President of the honor society.

Elida Velado // Staff Writer

Phi Alpha Honor Society is receiving recognition for their volunteer work and community service contributions in the Miami community. The student organization was recently awarded the national chapter service award for their contributions in 2019-2020.

The honor society is nationally recognized as a social work organization. Maiah Duckstein, president of Phi Alpha, emphasized the significance social work holds within the organization. 

“Social Work is about service to others. Phi Alpha is the national social work honor society and service to the School, College, University, community and profession is an important aspect of this organization. It is about doing for others and making a difference in the lives of others.”

The mission of the honor society is to create powerful bonds and connections among social work students. In addition, members strive to encourage humanitarian goals and ideals through their participation in community service.

Members from Phi Alpha posed for a photo while attending LEAD Day in Tallahassee in January 2020 to advocate for mental health and social work bills. Photo provided by Jodi Szabo, vice president of the honor society.

Members participate and host good drives, volunteer in service projects. and host events focused on pressing issues such as mental health. 

Phi Alpha recently organized a No More Broken Hearts conference to raise domestic violence awareness in 2020. The event provided a “comfort room” for FIU students to share their experience with this form of abuse.

The student organization advocates for students to share their experiences on social issues by hosting events such as the No More Broken Hearts conference. Jodi Szabo, the vice president of Phi Alpha, expresses how advocacy plays a role in the organization. 

“It’s essential that we as citizens and constituents, especially as social workers, advocate for those who may not be able to speak up for themselves or don’t have the resources or ability to do so.” 

Apart from hosting events, Phi Alpha has taken on innovative projects to help students in need of materials. 

On Feb. 29, 2020, members of the organization collaborated with the Public Health Student Association and the Dietetics/Nutrition Club to transform a middle school classroom into a meditation room 

They welcomed students with coloring activities, stuffed animals, stress balls, Play-Doh, snacks, aromatherapy, and music.

According to the Florida’s Council On Homeless 2019 Annual Report, Florida is seeing a continued decrease in homelessness every year. However, Phi Alpha took on a recent initiative to help individuals still living on the streets of Miami.

The student organization partnered with Counseling and Psychological Services to host a sock drive for the homeless in Fall 2020.

The honor society hosting a successful sock drive for homeless outreach in 2019. Photos are provided by Jodi Szabo, Vice President of the organization.

After the drive, members of the student organization gathered and distributed sandwiches, water, and socks among the homeless in Downtown Miami,

Although the event aimed to help the needy, the organization and Counseling and Psychological Services also organized it to raise mental health awareness. Members set up a table during the drive to distribute information regarding mental illness.  

Duckstein explained the impact the collaborative project made on the members who participated in holding the event.

 “The students returned more driven to assist those in need, she said.

The communal efforts do not stop there. In March 2020, Phi Alpha Honor Society hosted “The Annual Dance for People First” at the Graham University Center ballroom. 

The event was a prom-night-style dance for adults with physical and developmental disabilities. Members treated guests to a full-evening of delicious food and dancing. 

“Advocacy and empowerment were strong values and skills promoted by our students through this event,” Duckstein said. 

Although the pandemic halted the majority of in-person events, this did not stop the honor society from continuing its community efforts. 

Phi Alpha held a drive to collect diapers and baby items to support local organizations during Fall 2020. Organizers created a virtual amazon wish list for the Miami Diaper Bank in conjunction with the FIU Maternal and Child Health Club.

“Due to Covid, we had to get creative,” Duckstein said. “We have hosted and continue to host a series of panels with NAMI, NASW, and even our very own members.” 

Change isn’t possible without organizing events, such as the diaper drive, and participating in community service. Duckstein demonstrates this by sharing her experience as a member of Phi Alpha Honor Society.

“As a social worker and a Phi Alpha member I believe it’s my duty to focus on community organizing from both a social work and public health perspective,” Duckstein said. “Communities are an untapped resource, and I truly believe we need to organize if we wish to see any real change.”

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