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Gwynedd Mercy University is proud to announce that long-term adjunct professor Maria T. Weidinger, ACSW, LSW, was presented with the Social Worker of the Year Award by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) during their annual conference this week in Pocono Manor, Pa.
Weidinger has taught at GMercyU for more than 15 years. Her classes in our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program have spanned topics such as sociology, social problems, human service administration, the psychology of aging, and more. Prior to teaching, Weidinger worked for 30+ years as a geriatric social worker in various roles at senior centers, adult daycare, hospice, nursing care centers, home care, Temple University’s Center for Intergeneration Learning, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Weidinger’s road to becoming a social worker was not an easy one. “When I graduated from high school, I told my parents I wanted to be a social worker,” she said, explaining that they did not support her decision to attend college at the time. Instead, Weidinger married and had two children, then began working full-time in a senior center in Philadelphia while taking courses at Philadelphia Community College, eventually earning her master’s in social work from Temple University’s School of Social Work in 1986. “I pushed until I made it a reality with the help of my husband,” she said. “One course at a time.”
Weidinger has been a member of the PA-NASW for decades. She is currently a member of PA-NASW’s communications committee and the aging committee, which works on advocacy issues.
Weidinger’s wide and varied volunteer work includes: a four-year term as the Member at Large on Plymouth Township Council in Montgomery County, a nursing home ombudsman with the Center for Advocacy of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), and a member of the speaker’s bureau for the Alzheimer’s Association of Delaware Valley. Currently, she volunteers weekly to deliver meals on wheels, is a garden tender for her community park, and is the current chair for Plymouth Townships’ Human Relation Committee.
Through education, Weidinger is committed to sharing her passion for working with older adults and those in helping professions.
“Maria receives glowing evaluations from her students,” said Wade Luquet, PhD, LCSW, Program Director of GMercyU's Bachelor of Social Work Program. “We are proud to have her as part of our faculty and are thrilled that she has been honored by the PA-NASW for her contributions to social work.”