PSU honors Sanchez family

Sanchez family

The Sanchez family - Leroy (left), Ricardo, Loreana and Demetrio - all graduated from Portland State University School of Social Work. The four siblings were honored at the school's 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Social Work: It's all in the family

Four members of the Sanchez family – including Demetrio Sanchez, Jr., LCSW, OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, and Ricardo Sanchez, MSW, CSWA, Family Medicine at Gabriel Park – were honored at the Portland State University School of Social Work’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on January 30.

Demetrio and Leroy Sanchez, Class of 2009, and Ricardo and Lorena Sanchez, Class of 2012, all went into social work because of their parents.

“(Our parents) don’t have the social worker (title) after their name, but that’s what they are,” Demetrio said. “Since a young age, we accompanied people to doctor appointments and meetings to help them translate and complete paper work. Our parents opened our home to people, even when they didn’t have much. My mom still, to this day, supports people in our community.”

web Demetrio Sanchez, MSW '09,“It’s something that’s been ingrained in us since we were kids,” Ricardo agreed. “Mom and Dad would open their house. We used to joke and call it Hotel Sanchez. Mom and Dad were always there. People came from Mexico and always needed, needed, needed, and our parents gave, gave, gave and didn’t ask for anything in return. Why not do something that our family has always been doing? I knew it was the right thing to do. (It was) our family dynamic. Mom and Dad always brought that out in us…in me.”

The four Sanchez siblings were selected to participate in PSU School of Social Work’s 50/50 Photo Project. The project portrays 25 School of Social Work alumni from five different decades. Participants attended a joint interview session to discuss professional and personal paths, and reflected on the essential elements of impacting individuals, communities, policy and organizations. Images of the alumni, with quotes from the interview written in their own handwriting overlaid, were made into wall hangings that will be displayed in the halls of the School of Social Work. (See right).

web Ricardo Sanchez, MSW '12Ricardo and Demetrio talked about their experiences as social workers in OHSU Family Medicine clinics during the interview session.

“One thing that motivates me is wanting people to see social workers as scientists, as intelligent – as people who research and are evidence-based,” Demetrio said. “We aren’t just helpers or assistants, but drivers of psychotherapy – of future interventions of how to address mental illness. (I am motivated when we) are brought down to the same tables as doctors and psychiatrists and surgeons and they are listening to us for the first time. (They can see social workers are) not just someone with theories. (We are) being seen as experts in addressing mental health, hunger, poverty.”

Helping to educate others about the value of social work and behavioral-health intervention is important to him, Ricardo said.

“Working for OHSU, I have a great opportunity to teach residents about behavioral health, about social work, about anxiety and depression and how to incorporate behavioral health with the medical view,” Ricardo said. “My purpose is to be a bridge between social work/behavioral health and the medical world – to help patients in a wrap-around way where they can get all of their needs met. …I’m proud to be a medical social worker because I feel like OHSU is at the cutting edge of integrating behavioral health into the medical setting. I’m a small soldier in it, but I’m proud to be part of it.”