The world is facing major challenges that impact the ways in which groups come together and operate. As group workers, we embrace a culture of innovation to foster connections, social justice, and advocacy during these unprecedented times. This conference seeks to highlight creative and innovative group work examples that have positively impacted the profession at local and global levels.
The event will be held at One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Full registration information will be available in July 2021.
ASGW was in Puerto Rico January 30-February 2, 2020 Groups Work! Lighting Trails of Hope after the Storm Grupos: Iluminando senderos de esperanza tras la tormenta
Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, flooded the streets, collapsed homes and left the entire territory without power. It is estimated to have resulted in up to 5,000 fatalities in its aftermath. Maria caused the longest blackout in U.S. history, leaving the entire island of 3.3 million people without power, including those in hospitals and nursing homes who relied on respirators. Over two years later, the recovery is halting and rebuilding continues. Because Puerto Rico’s local communities are powered by small businesses, helping them recover is critical to the island’s economic and social recovery. In late 2019 and January 2020, Puerto Rico was hit by a series of earthquakes causing fresh devastation.
The mental health impacts of these long lasting disasters and their daily assaults and stressors cannot be overestimated. Young children start crying when it rains because they are afraid it will never stop. The rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed. The suicide hotlines have seen a 230% increase. The island desperately needs trauma-informed care and assistance, not just for the people directly affected, but also for those who have been working tirelessly to rebuild.
The Association for Specialists in Group Work celebrated the power of groups to help and rebuild by holding our biannual conference in Puerto Rico on January 30 to February 2, 2020 at the Embassy Suites El Dorado. It is the first national counseling association to hold a conference in Puerto Rico and this was a great time to do so. The conference was designed to include service components and integrate with the rebuilding effort through offering mental health and wellness services in schools and communities, as well as opportunities for local group workers to access the conference resources. We also had other opportunities for participants to assist by donating to reputable organizations, purchasing arts and crafts, listening to local musicians, and simply showing up. Presentations focused on the themes of LatinX issues, disaster mental health, and the power of groups to rebuild community.