The Group

This was the second session with a group of direct service providers who work in child welfare and family services.

The Program

The theme for the session was "Traditions of Service: What are We Trying to Do?" and the readings were "Four Traditions of Philanthropy" (Lynn and Wisely) and "A Bed for the Night" (a poem by Bertolt Brecht.) Ten participants met over lunch in the conference room of the family service agency.


I opened with the question: "Do we, and if so why do we, tend to shy away from relief/charity in our work as social service professionals? For example, why do we give a hungry client the phone number to the food pantry rather than give him/her the $10 that we were planning to donate to that cause anyway?" This was a very effective opener for this group, but eventually, it became evident that we were becoming mired in conversation of the strengths/weaknesses of the tradition of relief. One participant gave a particularly resonant example of a weakness of the tradition, and I asked the group how they would design a program to address just that example (assuming a generous gift from a generous foundation!) This took the conversation to a macro-level, and incorporated discussion of the other traditions.

Next Time

I gave the group the "Giving/Serving Autobiography" exercise prior to the session, and we didn't really talk about it very much. I'd think more about how I intended for that exercise to come into the discussion if I used it again.

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