WINTERSVILLE – Social work has been Russ Curry’s obedience to a faith as much as his career and his means of making a living.
The 55-year commitment puts the Wintersville resident in the spotlight when he accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award from Region 4 of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers today. at 7 pm through a virtual presentation on the website of what is the largest member organization of professional social workers in the world. It has more than 130,000 members nationwide and 4,700 in Ohio.
Youngstown Region 4 covers Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, Lake, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties.
“Each year, the NASW Ohio Chapter recognizes outstanding social workers, students, agencies, public citizens and elected officials whose work, serving their communities, reflects the values of the social work profession. “ website briefing notes. The Lifetime Achievement Award category “Celebrates the accomplishments of an Ohio social worker. “
Regional winners are selected from nominees from each of the eight NASW Ohio regions. Among them, a statewide award winner will be selected from each of the social award categories and this news will be announced in January.
A member of the board of directors of A Caring Place Child Advocacy Center in Wintersville, Curry was nominated for this honor by Doug Knight of Steubenville, who has worked under Curry in the past, but news of the achievement has come to the fore. Newspaper attention by Amy Lingerfelt, the new manager of A Caring Place, located at 705 Canton Road.
Curry became the volunteer interim director of the A Caring Place children’s advocacy center in August, remaining in that role until Lingerfelt was appointed director in September, with Curry then appointed to its board of directors.
“Within two months, Russ was able to secure new sources of funding and improve relationships with the community on behalf of the agency. Persistent notes. “He was able to update agency policies to better care for the staff and families that the agency serves.
“Russ always puts good deeds above all else” Lingerfelt commented. “He has always worked selflessly and tirelessly to improve our community. This award is well deserved and I am personally very proud to work alongside him.
Curry’s connection to A Caring Place, however, dates back to his early days in the county over 20 years ago. Its mission to be a leading advocate for healing and preventing child abuse, the non-profit organization offers “A safe, comfortable, private and child-friendly environment for abused children and their families with the aim of minimizing the trauma of child abuse while providing an effective means of gathering the information necessary to successfully prosecute offenders “ according to his Facebook information.
“While I was at Catholic Charities in New Castle, PA, I was involved in setting up a children’s advocacy center there, so I knew it and recognized the need to create one. one in Jefferson County “ explained Curry, who was instrumental in setting it up here, commissioning a staff member to draft the funding proposal.
Learning at a board meeting in July that the program was closed due to a lack of funding and leadership, Curry said his first response was “that can’t happen.” He agreed to take on the role of interim director, citing his main goal “Was to get funding to continue operations rather than shutting down, which I was able to do. “ He cited the Prevention Recovery Board and Jefferson County Job and Family Services as major funders.
In his nomination letter, Knight, a NASW Ohio Chapter 4 member, wrote: “Russ’s responsibilities as Acting Director included victim assistance, personnel and financial management, public relations, policy development and administration, planning and evaluation. “
Social work initially wasn’t something Curry, a Pittsburgh native, or a career he envisioned.
“No, it was not” he said in a phone interview earlier this week. “I was actually majoring in Mechanical Engineering, then I made a commitment to serve through my commitment to the Lord and changed my major to Psychology with the goal of getting my Masters in Social Work. “ he said.
Curry graduated from Geneva College, a Christian college in Beaver Falls, Pa., With a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. “Interestingly, I was to start working for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare on a Friday, and I received my draft notice on Thursday of the same week.” he said.
Curry served in the military from 1966 to 1968, with that last year turning down a direct commission as a second lieutenant in the military because he wanted to earn his master’s degree in social work. “I worked for a few years at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and the reason I was working there was a federal program called the Professional Education Program that allowed you to pursue your MSW, which is a Masters of Social Work. . “
He graduated with this in 1972 from the University of Pittsburgh, he explained, noting that in 1979 he was hired to start an outpatient drug and alcohol addiction program in Beaver County, in Pennsylvania. “It was called Drug and Alcohol Services of Beaver Valley Inc., which is still in business 42 years later,” he said.
A licensed independent social worker with a supervisory certification, Curry explained that he was recruited to work for Catholic charities in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “I was a county administrator in four of the six counties over a period of seven years, then I was recruited to come to the Jefferson County Children Services Board in 1991 and was director of social services, then executive director in 1999. “ It is now known as the Jefferson County Department of Job and Family Services, Children Services Division.
From there, Curry oversaw the Family Services Association on North Fourth Street in downtown Steubenville. “The non-profit mental health agency has made it a priority to serve, through various social services, underprivileged families in the town of Steubenville”, Knight wrote in his appointment.
Curry worked there until 2016, when it closed. Established in 1905, it was the oldest social service agency in Jefferson County, he said.
“Russ then offered counseling services to individuals and families in need within Coleman Health Services, formerly known as Coleman Professional Services,” Knight wrote. “Coleman Health Services, a non-profit organization, currently provides a number of services such as clinical (mental health), support (guardianship / family care), residential (housing) and employment services to individuals. in need not only in Jefferson County, but throughout northeastern Ohio.
Curry noted that his career as a social worker and his skills have been a means by which to serve God, fulfilling what he believes to have been his calling. It gave him a feeling of satisfaction.
“I think I have recognized through my experience that the Lord has given me a certain vision of being able to see the needs of the community and what type of services can meet those needs as well as certain leadership qualities in the community. the implementation of these visions ” he explained.
Given that he was an assistant professor of social work for over 20 years, Curry said he had a two-job career that encompassed teaching as well as the practical application of social work.
“I used to tell my students to seek out what are your gifts in your journey of faith” Curry spoke about his time teaching at the College of Geneva and the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Retirement does not mean the end of helping others.
“Russ is deeply rooted in the Christian faith where he and his wife, Cyndi, regularly engage in Christian ministry services at Crossroads Christian Church in Wintersville,” Knight wrote in his letter of appointment. “According to his wife, Russ’s greatest service is to the Lord Jesus Christ and he truly enjoys serving others with this Christian foundation as the cornerstone of his service.”
When asked what he thought of the price, Curry commented: “I was surprised. I didn’t know I was going to be nominated so it’s really a surprise.
He added of his future projects, “I will continue to navigate my walk with God until He brings me home.”