Each year a social worker dedicated to making a difference in the state of West Virginia is chosen as the recipient of the Anita S. Harbert Outstanding Achievement in Aging Award and is honored at the annual Summer Institute on Aging. This year, Fairmont resident and Morgantown social worker Jeanie DeVito Brenneman was chosen for her outstanding contribution to the field of aging.
The award was founded in 2008 to honor Anita S. Harbert, Ph.D., former chair of West Virginia University School of Social Work and founder of the Summer Institute on Aging, as well as the Center on Aging. The recipient of the award must be a social worker who not only appreciates the rural culture of West Virginia but is also conscious of the hardships that older adults face and recognizes the same unwavering strength that older members of the community possess.
In short, the recipient must be a catalyst, an advocate and a visionary. According to her coworkers, Brenneman embodies all three of these traits.
“She emulates the essence of a true social workerher compassion for clients, passion for policy, commitment to life-long learning, mentorship of new social workers and service to the community all speak volumes about Jeanie as a person and as a social worker,” said Loriann Sonntag, social services coordinator for Visiting Homemaker Service, Inc in Morgantown and adjunct instructor with the WVU Division of Social Work.
A graduate of Alderson-Broaddus College and WVU, Brenneman is currently a medical social worker at Amedisys Home Care and Hospice in Morgantown. She is also a member of the Professional Advisory Committee, the Hospice Interdisciplinary Group and the Ethics Committee. She spreads her knowledge and compassion to the community by speaking about hospice and end-of-life care at workshops, college classes and seminars
“If I had to sum up Jeanie in one word, it would be ‘exuberance,” Sontag said. “Her enthusiasm, passion and joy for social work spills out and rubs off on the rest of us. She always has time to answer questions and assist those of us who are newer to the profession. I have so much admiration and respect for hershe is the social worker that I aspire to be.”
Brenneman joins a growing list of professionals dedicated to advocacy in and development of the field of aging who have received the Harbert Award including: Sen. Jon Hunter, 2008; Ronald Nestor, 2009; Ethel Mae Boggs, 2010; and Genevieve Wiley, 2011.
”’Above and beyond’ should be her middle name, and I wish I could bottle up and distribute her knowledge, skill, passion, energy and commitment in my classes,” said Kris Hash, an associate professor with the WVU Division of Social Work.
Brenneman will be presented the award at the 34th annual Summer Institute on Aging on Wednesday, June 6. For more information on the event, please visit http://www.wvsioa.org or contact Jacki Englehardt, at 304-293-3280 or Jacki.Englehardt@mail.wvu.edu.
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