Photo Caption: (l to r) Lawrence Robinson, WSU advisor for Master of Social Work students and in charge of recruitment for the scholarships, Paul L. Hubbard and Mary Pickard, Associate at Howard & Howard Attorneys, who is a board member of the Pickard Family Fund.
Photo Credit: Montez Miller – The Montez Group
By Angela Spencer Ford
Social work is not just about counseling, it is about helping people work through a broad range of social and mental issues and changing outcomes for all those involved. It is about being change agents. The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) has brought to the forefront social inequities and racial disparities that continue to exist and thrive in our society. “Social work has evolved as a result of recent societal factors and other issues increasing the need for more social workers in new and different ways,” said Paul L. Hubbard, a social worker who was a driving force behind opening the first student chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers at Wayne State University decades ago and is still instrumental in shifting the field today.
Acknowledged as some of the leading Black Social Workers of all times are George Edmund Haynes, Ida B. Wells, Whitney M. Young, Thyra J. Edwards, Lester B. Granger, Dorothy Height, among others. Known for their social activism in various fields laying the groundwork for those who follow.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates show social work is now a field outpacing most with an expected 13 percent employment growth rate from 2019-2029. But it is anticipated that with the demonstrated needs highlighted by BLM, new career paths will continue to open up.
The social work field is dominated by women, with statistics from the Center for Workforce Studies showing that only 7 percent of licensed social workers are African American. Of that 7 percent, only 15 percent are Black men. “So, not only is there a necessity for more licensed Black social workers overall, but there is also a desperate need for more men in the field,” said Hubbard. “It is so important that more men join those ranks and close this disparity gap. As a social worker you need to not only have the necessary skills but also have similar backgrounds in order to better connect with your clients.”
Recognizing that many federal grants dried up and scholarships were needed to help support the next generation of social workers, Hubbard reached out to a long-time friend. That friend is a change agent, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, author and Executive Chairman of GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, Dr. William F. Pickard. With Paul as a liaison, Dr. Pickard is addressing the challenge by pledging $250,000 to support scholarships at Wayne State University’s School of Social Work.
When asked why fund scholarships in the field of social work Dr. Pickard said, “Social work is about making society stronger and building better communities.” He added, “Supporting students who are steadfast in their determination to uplift Black families is rewarding and important. Also, this is an opportunity to honor men and women who have been mentors, friends, and two of the biggest supporters in my life, my parents, which is priceless.”
Thankful that Hubbard brought the need to his attention, Dr. Pickard shares Hubbard’s view and is also hopeful that these scholarships will encourage Black men to consider a career in social work. “It’s extremely important that more Black men enter this field, cutting back on the disparity evident even here.”
Dr. Pickard has a long and storied history with Wayne State and with Hubbard. When he first returned to the Detroit area after receiving his doctorate degree at The Ohio State University, he, along with his partners opened his first McDonald’s franchise. Times were lean. The store was barely making enough to pay salaries to two of the partners, so Dr. Pickard was desperate to find a job because he was only making $100 a week. Enter Paul L. Hubbard and Wayne State.
Hubbard, a social worker and master’s student at Wayne State, knew of a faculty opening and recommended Dr. Pickard. With Hubbard’s referral and recommendation, within one week of meeting Hubbard, Pickard joined the faculty as the Director of Minority Students and Recruitment. There he worked with Sylvia Wilson who acted as a mentor.
Wayne State has been a recipient of Dr. Pickard’s generosity in the past. Three years ago, he donated $125,000 to the School of Social Work to help renovate a building and was able to name four rooms. One of those rooms was named after his longtime friend, Paul L. Hubbard.
This time, Dr. Pickard’s gift will create scholarships for full- or part-time undergraduate or graduate students at the University’s School of Social Work. Additional criteria for the scholarships are that the students be active members of the Association of Black Social Workers Wayne State or Detroit chapters and that they must also complete their field placement with Black Family Development. The School of Social Work’s Scholarship Committee will select recipients. Once again, Dr. Pickard is using this opportunity to honor people who have influenced his life. Those scholarships are:
· William H. and Victoria Pickard Scholarship named in honor of his parents. His parents moved to Flint, Mich., to get jobs on the General Motors assembly line allowing Dr. Pickard to pursue his educational dream.
· Paul L. Hubbard Scholarship in recognition of his long-time friend, colleague, and social worker who also sits on the Board of Visitors of the School of Social Work.
· Dr. Gerald K. Smith Scholarship honoring the founder of YouthVille Detroit, an organization which provides counseling and mentoring to Detroit’s youth.
· Sylvia Wilson Scholarship recognizing the former Director of Admissions of Wayne State’s School of Social Work.
· Angelo Henderson Scholarship in memory of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, radio host and minister.
Dr. Pickard also thanked Hubbard for his years of dedication to enriching the lives of Black Detroit families through founding Black Family Development.
Hubbard said, “It has been my life’s work to strengthen my community through ensuring that we have strong Black families.”
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson stated, “Dr. Pickard and Mr. Hubbard have devoted themselves to strengthening the Black community in Detroit and ensuring that Black students have equal access to the education and opportunities that create generational change.”
Teaching the next generation of game changers is an important task, but just as important is the need for those in the field to reflect the clients and community that they will serve.
“At Wayne State University School of Social Work, we’re teaching future community leaders how to make a difference,” said School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak. “They can have no finer examples than Dr. William Pickard and Mr. Paul Hubbard.”