When Professor Precious Skinner-Osei brought 17 students from one of her Social Work classes to Poverello for the first time, she didn’t realize how impactful the experience would be for everyone involved. A firm believer in combining the study of social work in the classroom with work in the field, Professor Skinner-Osei now exposes her students to the work and mission of Poverello as part of their social work curriculum each semester.
A native of Pompano Beach and currently a Coral Springs resident, Skinner-Osei is an Adjunct Professor at the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University. She did her undergraduate work at Florida State University, her post-graduate work at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and received her Ph.D from Barry University. Her focus at FAU is in the areas of Community Organizing, Policy and Research.
For about a half day each semester, Poverello become a working classroom for Professor Skinner-Osei’s students. Through observation, questioning and participation, they learn about the vital services that Poverello provides to its participants, and how this important social services organization works with the community. “I keep bringing my students back and keep myself involved as well,” she commented, “because of Poverello’s strict adherence to its mission and goals. This is not always the case with social service agencies,” she continued. Professor Skinner-Osei, as well as her students, is also impressed by the dedication and hard work of Poverello volunteers. “If you didn’t know better, you’d think they were all employees, as they demonstrate such a high level of commitment to what they are doing,” she remarked.
In addition to using Poverello as a teaching “lab” for her students, Professor Skinner-Osei also gets them involved in some of Poverello’s fund-raising events and activities. For example, this past year 12 of her students participated in the annual Associated Grocers’ event at the Miami Merchandise Mart, joining Poverello volunteers and staff in collecting three truck-loads of food, diapers and household goods for those in need in various south Florida communities. Her students also joined Poverello volunteers this past summer in packing food bags for youths in Palm Beach County.
Precious Skinner-Osei’s husband is also an academic who is doing research in health. They have two children, a nine-year-old daughter (who she brought into Poverello this past summer to help pack food bags, “an experience she loved,” she related), and a five-year-old son who keeps them on their toes. And as if she wasn’t busy enough, Profession Skinner-Osei is also doing research on incarcerated fathers.
The relationship between the Professor and Poverello is yet another example of how the forces of good join together to benefit the community.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?
-Martin Luther King, Jr.