Interview with Grand Rapids's Program Director, Julie DeJong, LMSW

Julie DeJong, LMSW recounts what influenced her in becoming a social worker in this interview for National Social Work Month.

Q:  Where did you get your social work degree?

      I received a BSW from Hope College and an MSW from the University of Denver. I am a Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW) in Michigan.

Q:  Why did you choose to become a social worker?

      My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer my senior year of high school and died right before graduation. My first experience with a social worker was with the hospital social worker that she was working with through her chemotherapy treatments. I have always had a passion for people and a heart for helping others, so that steered me in the direction of choosing social work as a career.

Q:  What is your social work experience prior to coming to Ele's Place?

      Prior to moving back to Michigan last summer, I was a child protection caseworker in Colorado for over four years. I have prior experience in working with adoption, domestic violence, and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Q:  Why did you choose to work at Ele's Place?

      The moment I heard about Ele's Place, I knew it was where I wanted to work. I think back to when my mom died and how much my family and I could have benefited from an agency like Ele's Place. I am passionate about providing a safe place for kids to grieve and openly share their feelings about their person who has died. 

Q:  Do you have any advice for those thinking about going into social work?

      Social work is a wild ride. You will grow both personally and professionally in this line of work. It will stretch you to your limits and challenge you every day. You will meet all different kinds of people and have the privilege of walking alongside of them during some of their most difficult and trying times. I am passionate for and energized by this work and wouldn't change it for anything. It is both a calling and an honor to be a social worker.