ISWS 2020 Annual Report

International Social Work Solutions, Inc

Annual Report 2020

Respectfully submitted by: Thea T Bader, MSW, LICSW

February 9, 2021

“I, Mayra Perdomo, as a caller for Covid Cares Call Program, have found that people want to be heard and assisted. In every call they share personal things to a stranger, which leads to receiving assistance from a professional. That is how they feel relieved. There are also people that pass on the information to their relatives, neighbors or friends, so they too could receive proper assistance. During this pandemic, it is very important to have proper assistance. the ccc program gives free information and mental health services and has certainly improved the lives of many.”

Year In review:

International Social Work Solutions, Inc (ISWS), along with the rest of the world saw a year like no other in our lifetime.  In March of 2020, a global pandemic, a virus called Covid-19, took over life as we knew it.  With infection rates extremely high and the lethal quality of the illness from the virus, country’s borders closed shut, air travel stopped, and the stay-at-home order was the norm. Video group calls were now the usual way of conducting business.

The basis of the ISWS mission is to allow experienced social work volunteers to travel to struggling areas throughout the globe in order to assist with building community capacity. With international travel eliminated, ISWS was forced to evaluate how to stay relevant and continue to offer social work expertise to those who wanted it during this pandemic.  The decision to shift to a remote model, never before attempted, was unanimous by the ISWS board of directors.  ISWS utilized Zoom conference video calling to conduct psycho-educational trainings, program management, program evaluation, as well as board business. ISWS also moved from not only introducing and conducting new and unique programming to our partner organizations, but we also began to support in-country efforts monetarily. ISWS successfully re-imagined its mission in order to continue to assist communities in need during this unprecedented and difficult time.

Financial Report

In December of 2020, ISWS used the platform OneCause and along with the Winspire group, presented a 2020 Virtual Auction Fundraising Gala to our list of over 200 of our donors. The virtual auction, never before attempted, was a promotional and financial success.  ISWS secured 4 corporate sponsors totaling $1,600, offered 48 auction items, ISWS procured a total of 28 items and sold 22 items totaling $3,282 and received $1,350 in donations from the fundraising platform.  Other donations resulting from the promotion of the auction, via the website or individual checks came to $13,000.

The first application to a grant foundation was completed in September 2020 to the Donchian Foundation but has been unsuccessful to date.

Note: the 2020 budget was amended in July of 2020, based the Covid-19 interruption of travel and the re-examination of the ISWS mission during this time.

Other financial Information:

Total Contributions, 2020: $25,322

Total Contributions to Date: $83,665.00

Total Stipends Awarded, 2020: $8,222

Total Program Support Awarded, 2020: $9,744

Bank Balance as of 12/31/2020: $29,771.76

Board News

The ISWS Board of Directors continues to be an active and committed board.  Support to ISWS in the way of donations was 100% participation in 2020.  The composition of the board has changed this past year with two resignations.  Membership went from 8 members in Jan. 2020 to 6 in December of 2020.  The goal for 2021 is to increase membership by 2 or 3 by the end of the year. 

In January of 2020, ISWS board members gathered for the Second ISWS Board Retreat, a day of socialization, reflection and discussion. Topics included 1) update of the ISWS mission statement, 2) a look at board effectiveness, and 3) the future of ISWS fundraising, social media and marketing.  Discussion also centered around ISWS financial and programmatic future.  The meeting agenda and subsequent discussion was based on the report from Northeastern University’s Experiential Learning Project, The Final Report.  Information obtained from the report consisted of results from a board survey of effectiveness, a S.W.O.T analysis of the health of the organization and conclusions/recommendations from the researchers. 

Program Accomplishments

The year 2020 has seen changes in many areas of daily life.  As previously stated, the pandemic forced a review of ISWS program development which resulted in the transition to a remote model. ISWS was forced to cancel or suspend travel to both Uganda and Guatemala in early March. One volunteer in Rome, Italy returned to the US a month early so as not to be stranded in Europe as borders closed and travel between countries stopped. 

There have been several new initiatives in 2020 with a total of 11 ISWS social work volunteers working remotely throughout the year. See below for a brief summary of each program:

  • The Covid Cares Call Program (CCC) in Guatemala City and Haiti: With ISWS financial backing, this joint program with Hunger Relief International enabled in-country callers to reach out to 200+ households for information, referral, and support during the height of the Covid crisis.  Two ISWS volunteers remotely managed the project, using the survey responses to analyze and evaluate impact.  This program is on-going.
  • Food and Delivery Program (F&D) in Hanoi, Vietnam: ISWS funds supported 10 single mother recipients from Coins for Change for start-up assistance for a food and delivery service business.  The recipients are engaged in seminars of business best practices, as well as group support meetings.  One ISWS volunteer social worker manages the program remotely. She developed evaluative questionnaires to determine individual success. This program is on-going.
  • Trauma Training for Staff of CEAFPD in Ulvira, Democratic Republic of Congo: Three ISWS social work volunteers developed a two-session curriculum for trauma training in an area of the world suffering from the after effects of constant armed conflict, kidnapping children for the use of child soldiers, community and domestic violence, poverty/homelessness, and natural disasters. This program will continue with Phase 2 and 3 of the training in 2021.
  • Introduction to Violence and Trauma Training with Healthcare Professionals, Guatemala City: Three ISWS volunteers developed and provided a two-session training for 20 health care professionals as part of a consortium of organizations in Guatemala City.  This training will continue in 2021 with 2-4 additional seminars of topics related to 1) Psychological First Aid, 2) General Information for Depression/Anxiety, 3) Gender-based violence, and 4) Gang-related violence. One ISWS social work volunteer is attached to this program.

Looking Ahead:

The year of 2021 will be similar to 2020 with respect to how ISWS social workers provides programming to global communities.  We will continue to use Zoom for trainings, meetings, and program execution at least until world travel becomes safer.  There are three new possible initiatives already in the development stage.

Programmatic Goals for 2021:

  1. Introduction of the CCC program in the Dominican Republic and Colombia through a grant from Fordham University. Two ISWS social work volunteers are attached to this program.
  2. Potential new initiative with the Foundation of Child and Maternal Health in Mumbai, India. One ISWS social work volunteer is attached to this program.

As well, there are several organizational goals for ISWS that emerged from the Board Retreat Day.

Organizational Goals:

  1. The goal to find more sustainable sources of income to ensure ISWS’ longevity such as more grant writing and corporate sponsorships.
  2. Build more connections that will result in additional social work volunteer opportunities.
  3. Increase the number of board members with a focus on board diversity.
  4. Continue to nurture the professional person-to-person aspect of the organization.
  5. Continued creation of an online forum for support and an exchange of information among past ISWS volunteers.

The past year was one of upheaval and change which demanded a shift to a more flexible way of conducting business. ISWS rose to the challenge successfully, paving the way for the continuation of existing programs and new initiatives in 2021, creating substantial impact one project at a time.

“Together we are stronger – there isn’t anything we can’t do if we do it together.” President Joe Biden, as part of his Inaugural Speech, Jan. 20, 2021

Respectfully submitted,

Thea T Bader, MSW, LICSW

February 9, 2021