Daemen University is utilizing its graduate programs and internships to help support Gov. Hochul’s goal of ending the gun violence epidemic in the United States. Graduate student Jailyn Weiss, who is in her second year of the Master of Social Work program, is currently interning at Buffalo SNUG, a local organization that aims to reduce gun violence in target areas.
Buffalo SNUG (guns spelled backwards), which currently has 12 community outreach members, focuses on the one to three percent of highest risk youth and young adults in the Buffalo area. Applying their shared life experience, influence and built trust within the community, the outreach members are able to connect with the population and effect change. In addition to the outreach members, the organization employs two licensed social workers and one student social worker, which is Weiss.
“The main role of a social worker at SNUG is being there to check in with our outreach staff. While the social workers will work effortlessly to help the public and those reaching out for SNUG’s services, the effects the work has on the outreach workers does not go unnoticed” says Weiss. “The outreach team works hard canvassing and helpling protect the community streets from gun violence. They respond to shootings around the city of Buffalo. The social workers at SNUG help access those situations and strive to help the outreach workers process them so that they can be successful when working out in the community.”
According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), professional social workers are the nation’s largest providers of mental health services. Through classes, field based learning and research, Daemen students are being prepared for leadership in the community and within the social work profession.
“Daemen has given me so many opportunities that I would not have had available to me outside of the Daemen community. The social work department continually has volunteer and networking opportunities for students and current social workers” continued Weiss. “One key aspect that is emphasized is the importance of being culturally competent. In the world of social work, you will come across people from all walks of life. We are taught to explore different cultures and, more importantly, we are taught to show appreciation and empathy towards everyone. The skills learned in the MSW program are relatable to the field and life.”