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Helping Others is Tarrytown Woman's Job, Passion

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Social work is not as gloomy as most people think, Sherry Saturno said.

“I think that this isn't at all a depressing profession,” Saturno said. “I think it's actually one of the more uplifting ones, and I think that there's a lot of room for creativity.”

Saturno is a Tarrytown resident and the clinical director of the Westchester Medical Center Behavioral Health Center in Valhalla. She was recently named the 2012 Social Worker of the Year for the State of New York by the National Association of Social Workers.

Saturno spoke about her profession as part of National Social Work Month. She said the typical stereotype of social workers are people who work in child welfare, but many social workers work in medicine, education, art, music and law.

“I'm trying to see if I can encourage people who are interested in the profession to give it a chance and to really see how much the profession has broadened,” she said. “There's so much opportunity for people who are interested in the field.”

The National Association of Social Workers has about 22,000 members in the state, and Saturno said residents can find many of them working in their neighborhoods. Social workers can be found in schools helping struggling students or in hospitals treating patients. Other social workers help people find food, housing and help with utility bills.

Saturno got into social work about 12 years ago because she said she wanted to help people who weren't able to speak for themselves or felt their voices weren't being heard. Today, she oversees much of the in-patient program at the Behavioral Health Center, working with music and art therapists as well as social workers and case managers. The center's job, she said, is basically to stabilize patients and help them adjust after being discharged.

“It's really like a recovery model of care for the patients,” she said.

The best part of social work, Saturno said, is helping people who may be alone with their struggles.

“I think it's extremely rewarding, and I think people who are social workers are extremely passionate about what they do,” she said.

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