Twenty-five Carolina Meadows residents who had pursued careers in social work attended a festive luncheon to celebrate National Social Workers Month on March 31. Also attending were Kathy Boyd, executive director of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and Janice Wells, assistant professor in the N.C. State University Master of Social Work Program. The main topic of discussion was the documentary "Social Workers of the 20th Century," which portrayed the professional experiences of 11 of these Carolina Meadows women. Months earlier, after Wells heard about the Carolina Meadows Social Workers Group, she asked whether these retirees would talk with her students about their experiences in social work and thereby enhance the course in the history of social welfare that she was teaching during the fall semester of 2007.The students' questions for the interviews included motivations for choosing the profession, educational preparation, greatest practice challenges and/or unique experiences. The students who interviewed the retired social workers were fortunate to find family and friends who assisted them in securing technical equipment and consulted with them in video production and editing techniques.Students asked how the Carolina Meadows residents chose social work as a profession. Connie Freeman replied that in the first half of the 20th century there were few choices of careers for women. Social work was one of the few that seemed interesting. Caryl Kaplan responded that she "liked to relate to different people." Simone Lipman was seeking "something practical." Lucie Johnson wanted to help people mired in poverty and poor health that were so prevalent during the Great Depression. Questions about the social workers' most difficult challenges brought out a number of unique practice experiences. For instance, in working with a hospital patient, Louise Seymour had to track down the horse he had ridden into town and to find a "foster home" for the animal.Lipman's experience was unique. A native of France, she helped open a preschool for children during World War II. In order to save hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis during the occupation of France, she became expert in falsifying their identities in official documents so that they could be evacuated.Joy Hill described a frightening encounter: She talked down a psychotic young man who had escaped from an emergency room to the hospital's roof and was threatening to jump.To a student's question about the effects of changing legislation and policy on social work practice, Jean Harned talked about her frustration with local school board rules of expelling the teenaged pregnant women with whom she was working at N.C. Memorial Hospital (now UNC Hospitals) in the 1960s. When she complained, school administrators asked how she expected the rules to be changed for the pregnant pupils when, at that time, any teacher whose pregnancy became conspicuous was required to resign.Joan Rimer, who worked for Children's Home Society of New Jersey, related how policies regarding adoption had changed over those years. When she began with the agency, only healthy white children were placed. Through the years, culture and policy evolved so that, by the time of her retirement, she had worked with inter-racial and international adoptions; placements with gay families and single parents; with families who would accept a severely disabled child; and with adoptees seeking their biological parents.Kim Acrigg described how her work with a rape crisis program evolved into organizing an agency that sheltered battered women in Clinton, Iowa. At the time, this was a service that was rare or non-existent in the nation.As a school social worker, Jean Waterbury thought her greatest challenge was getting parents involved, assisting them in understanding a child's problem and in making changes to help the student as well as the family.Judy Smarr, a psychiatric social worker, talked about the importance of being committed to helping clients and effecting change in the greater society. She spoke about the responsibility of social workers having to take a leadership role in addressing societal problems. "Don't be afraid to do what you need to do," she said.Feedback from Wells indicates that this was a positive learning experience for her students, who benefited from the experience and advice of these veteran social workers. One class member who had thought working with older adults was not an option for her has reconsidered and has placed it high on her career list. Another student reported that the experience bought back happy memories of visits with her grandmother.