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Peters, Villivalam speak at NASW Advocacy Day Event

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers held its Advocacy Day event earlier this morning. State Senators Robert Peters and Ram Villivalam both gave remarks in front of the NASW audience.

NASW Illinois has over 7,000 members consisting of social workers across the state of Illinois. Its annual Advocacy Day is an opportunity for members to talk to lawmakers and spread information about the issues important to the Association.

Villivalam (D-Chicago), who spent time prior to joining the State Senate as a legislative coordinator for Service Employees International Union Healthcare, spoke about the importance of the social work profession.

"Social workers dedicate their lives to enhancing the well-being of those they serve, from children to the elderly,” Villivalam said. “They're ready and willing to help solve pressing issues, most notably the availability and quality of mental health services."

Peters (D-Chicago), a former community organizer, began his remarks by providing some background of his early life, and then spoke about the impact that social work on had on his upbringing.

“I was born deaf to a mother who was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was immediately put up for adoption,” Peters said. “I was deaf until the age of 6 and had a speech impediment until the age of 12, and was told at a young age by many adults that I would never amount to anything. But I was lucky, because I had teachers and social workers at school who looked out for me when I had nowhere else to turn.”

Peters also spoke about his commitment to fight to change conditions that lead to such a need for adoption and social work.

“This means affordable housing, strong labor unions, investing in the community, and investing in schools and social workers,” Peters said. “We must live in the world as it is, but we must be driven by the passion for the world that we want, and I believe that we can accomplish this if we come together as a community.”

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