March 2004

Press Contact:
Chris Davis

Social Worker of the Year is Peoples' Self-Help Employee Al Gentle

National Association of Social Workers names Al Gentle for Santa Barbara County Honor

Santa Barbara, CA. March 24, 2003—Al Gentle was recently named the Santa Barbara County Social Worker of the Year. In addition to exemplary work in the social work field, the criteria for this award includes National Association of Social Workers (NASW) membership in good standing, licensed professional social work experience, leadership, client advocacy, diverse and multicultural experience, social policy impact and exceptional practice. Gentle is the Health & Community Services Coordinator for Peoples' Self-Help Housing (PSHH), as well as the First Vice President of the Santa Barbara Chapter of NASW.

Gentle's commitment to social work activism spans 31 years, during which he has worked in both the public and private practice areas. Before moving to Santa Barbara 4½ years ago, he was honored by his former Massachusetts Chapter with the Beverly Ross Fliegel Public Service Award for his work in public mental health settings. He is a certified group psychotherapist and has organized and co-led psychotherapy groups for mental health client populations, including a men's group, an adolescent activities group, and two groups for gay, lesbian and bisexuals with serious mental health issues. He currently provides counseling and support services to residents in PSHH's low-income rental properties throughout the Central Coast.

PSHH has a 32 year history of developing and providing affordable rental and sweat equity housing for families, agricultural workers, seniors, and citizens with physical, developmental and mental health issues. Gentle was the organization's first social worker on staff. His dedication to social work activism has helped provide access and awareness to health, education, literacy, immigration, financial, and other important services in the community. Gentle utilizes his program development and social work skills to provide services to a diverse population with various needs; working to improve and increase access to health, education, literacy, immigration, financial and other important services.

"Al's dedication to others is truly inspiring," said Jeanette Duncan, Executive Director for Peoples' Self-Help Housing. "The many residents in our Central Coast low-income rental properties are fortunate to have working with them someone of Al's level of experience and concern."

The Social Worker of the Year Award was presented to Gentle at the NASW's California Social Worker of the Year Banquet on March 9th, in Encino, Ca.