by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter
Tallmadge -- Lynn Werbecki said her perspective on social work changed when her twins were born three months early.
The children spent several weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit before she could bring them home.
"It was that time when I truly realized what it meant to advocate for someone who couldn't speak for themselves," said Werbecki, noting her children, Gage and Karleigh, are now 2 and in good health. "Since then, I've felt myself trying to become a mouthpiece for people who can't put into words what they're trying to say."
Werbecki, a social worker with 10 years of experience serving the Uniontown Area Agency on Aging as a transition care manager, is known for the effort she puts forth in caring for her clients, said Dean Leupold, executive director of the Akron/Canton Crossroads Hospice.
Because of her outstanding qualities as a social worker, Werbecki was presented with the inaugural Crossroads Hospice Caring More Award for the Akron/Canton region March 29 at Prestwick Country Club in Uniontown in honor of National Social Worker month.
"Lynn has always gone the extra mile and goes above and beyond to help my staff and to make sure our patients are getting what they need," said Leupold.
Recognizing elite social workers like Werbecki is important, Leupold said, because the significant role they play in people's lives often goes unnoticed.
"They really don't get enough recognition," said Leupold. "Social workers are doing so many amazing things on a daily basis, but you don't ever really hear about them. When you think of hospitals, people think of nurses and doctors, but you might not think about all these people doing community support services and helping people with end-of-life decisions."
Along with the award, Werbecki was presented with $500 for herself and $500 to be given to a non-profit of her choice -- she chose the March of Dimes Foundation Northeast Ohio Division.
Werbecki, 31, lives in Tallmadge with her husband, Erick, and attends the Stow Alliance Fellowship Church where she has been an active volunteer.
Werbecki was drawn to her field, she said, because of the "different hats a social worker wears."
"The job of a social worker is to try to promote change, but sometimes it's difficult to get a person actively engaged in doing that," she said. "On the flip side, whenever you're able to encourage someone or empower them, that's one of the most rewarding things that can happen."
Werbecki said the most important quality of a good social worker is being a great listener. As a transition care manager, Werbecki's job is to help people make the change from living on their own to living with assistance or vice versa.
"I want everyone's situations to be good and safe," she said, "but my main job is to give someone their choice."
Werbecki said earning the Caring More Award gave her some appreciated positive reinforcement.
"You can get in some low times when you feel like you're not making a difference," she said. "But just receiving the nomination gave me the 'oomph' I needed to keep going. When I was chosen, I was completely humbled because I know so many social workers in the area that are so deserving of it, so I was honored they would choose me."
Although no social workers get into the field for praise, Werbecki said recognizing any person for what they do will make them feel good.
"Everyone needs to hear they're doing a good job," she said. "It's what helps keep you going."