Maureen Kale: The 2018 NASW-NJ Public Citizen of the Year

Maureen Kale: The 2018 NASW-NJ Public Citizen of the Year
Posted on 11/07/2018
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Collier Youth Services is proud to announce that Maureen Kale has earned a prestigious award from the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NJ).

Kale is Director of the Collier Residential Program; she has served the young women of Collier for more than 25 years. The National Association of Social Workers- New Jersey has honored Kale as the 2018 NASW-NJ Public Citizen of the Year.

This honor indicates Kale has made a significant contribution to at-risk and vulnerable populations, acts with courage, demonstrates outstanding leadership, and exemplifies the values and mission of professional social work. Kale leads the Collier Residential Program in two locations: Collier Group Home in Red Bank and Collier House in Keyport. This unique residential program serves teenage girls who cannot live at home because of abuse, neglect, and trauma as well as young women, ages 18-21, who have “aged out” of the foster care system.

During Kale’s tenure at Collier Group Home – as lead clinical counselor and currently the director of the residential program – she has impacted the lives of more than 350 young women, all of whom have experienced significant trauma related to adverse childhood experiences such as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, neglect, and multiple losses.

The Collier Residential Program offers a safe, structured, and supportive place to live. Essential services include counseling, life skills, mentorship, and personal development. Residents attend local high schools and colleges, work and volunteer, and contribute to the local community.

Through Kale’s leadership and four years of training and implementation, the Collier Residential Program became the first in New Jersey to be certified in the Sanctuary Model. This framework helps empower teenage girls and young women to identify past trauma, develop healing strategies, and create positive changes for life success.

According to Sister Debbie Drago, Executive Director of Collier Youth Services, “Maureen Kale is a no-nonsense woman who does what needs to be done to help the young women in the program heal from their traumatic injuries, get in touch with their remarkably resilient nature, reconnect with family and significant adults, and muster the courage and humility to restore misunderstood and broken relationships. Through Maureen’s steady, strong, non-judgmental presence and belief – not only in the dignity and worth of each person, but also the potential of each young woman in her care – the girls begin to envision, believe in, and plan for a brighter future for themselves.”

Sister Debbie Drago is a licensed clinical social worker; so, too, is Theresa Bates, who supports the students of Collier School. Bates concurs that Kale is richly deserving of the National Association of Social Workers- New Jersey honor because of her unwavering devotion to young women in crisis.

“I’m thrilled that Maureen Kale has been recognized as Public Citizen of the Year,” Bates shares. “She has devoted her entire professional life – 35 years – to caring for at-risk adolescents. She sets limits, is clear about the norms and expectations, and is resolute in her determination that the girls know they are worthy of respect – respect for themselves and for one another. She is a wonderful role model.”

Kale says she is honored to be recognized as Public Citizen of the Year and grateful to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd for their guidance and support. In 1927, Mrs. Robert Collier bequeathed her Wickatunk property to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd for the establishment of a residential school for neglected and dependent girls. More than 90 years later, Sister Debbie Drago notes, “Our motto at Collier Youth Services is ‘where small miracles happen every day.’ Many of these miracles are a direct result of the efforts of Maureen Kale.”