IU East School of Social Work recognizes community partners, student scholarship recipient

The Indiana University East School of Social Work is recognizing a re-emerging mental health organization and a dedicated volunteer in its annual Community Partner Awards – while one of its majors has received an award of her own.

Sarah McCashland

The emerging affiliate of NAMI Indiana in East Central Indiana — which with the help of an IU East Master of Social Work student and others has been restarted after the local program fell victim to the pandemic – is the 2021-2022 Outstanding Community Partner Award winner for an organization.

Sarah McCashland, program coordinator for the Healthy Start Grant at Centerstone, is this year’s individual winner. McCashland, B.S.W. 2011 and M.S.W. 2014, was recognized for her dedication to the School of Social Work and as a volunteer field instructor.

“NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness,” said Linda Melody-Cottongim, student services generalist in the School of Social Work at IU East. The previous NAMI for Wayne County closed during the COVID-19 pandemic before efforts to get it reestablished.

Lisa Kay Steiner, interim director and field coordinator for the IU East School of Social Work, said the school “appreciates the vital role our community partners play in preparing future social workers for their roles in our communities.”

Faith George

Steiner added, “Our students would learn only in a very limited, one-dimensional way without this hands-on skills practice under the direct supervision of a seasoned social worker. Nothing else compares to supervised practice with real clients.”

McCashland not only continues to dedicate time and energy to the School of Social Work, she completed her degree through the IU East program and returned for her Master of Social Work degree in 2014. She’s been a field instructor since 2016, she said, “because I had a passion for the students and wanted to develop effective team members within my company.”

Her interest in social work was sparked during her first year of college at Ivy Tech Community College. “I really wanted to help people and do community work. Social work was the perfect fit for both of those career desires.”

The Liberty native said she enjoys creating unique experiences for students. “Social work is an important area of study because it is in everything we do. We work literally with every age and population on a vast array of topics.”

Faith George, who anticipates graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) in May 2024, was one of two scholarship winners in the state. The Brookville native is a junior at IU East.

The NAMI Outstanding Community Partner Award M.S.W. Program 2021-2022 from left to right includes Lisa Steiner, Carrie Rosenberger, Linda Williams with “Tucker,” Starla Wing, Jessica Whited, Brittany Schimpf, Lisa Felsman, Chris O’Neil and Linda Melody-Cottongim.

The Mental Health & Addictions Scholarship was established in 2021 to provide full-tuition scholarships for two students who have an interest in the field of community-based practice in mental health and addiction. The scholarship also requires dedication to service. Recipients of the award plan to pursue an M.S.W. degree to further their social work education.

“This scholarship was awarded to only two B.S.W. majors across the seven campuses of IU School of Social Work. Since we are a system school, all sites function under the direction of a single dean at IUPUI. Faith was chosen as one of two students from the entire state for this award, which is outstanding. We are very happy to have her here in our junior cohort for her B.S.W. degree studies,” Steiner said.

George said she knew she wanted to go into the field by the end of her high school career. “I knew that I wanted to help people and I knew social workers did just that…My whole life I have just wanted to hear what people have to say and who them someone truly cares.” She said her parents were a great inspiration for her. “I specifically have been inspired by my dad, who was a pastor, and would help give recovering drug addicts a home and food. My parents would help people in any way they can. I grew up around that my entire life.”