Alumni Achievement: Helping hand

Social worker Carol Goldbaum has worked in family therapy, general mental health, substance abuse and related areas. (Photo courtesy of Carol Mattar)
Social worker Carol Goldbaum is honored for a lifetime of serving others

When Carol Goldbaum, EDW ’88, thinks about the clients she has met during her 50-year career in social work, one in particular sticks out. Goldbaum was handling admittance in a hospital when a psychotic man came in, raging. He started moving towards her, and she had but a split second to react. “I said ‘Sit down!’” she recalls. He obeyed. Looking back, it’s a moment that reflects her style of working with clients. “Instead of saying ‘Guard!’ or ‘Help!’ and getting someone to restrain him, I let him pull it together,” she says. “Then we could talk because he felt … that someone was going to help him stay in control.”

Empowering people and, as Goldbaum puts it, figuring out “the meta message” has shaped her career, whether she’s been doing clinical work, performing administrative tasks, fundraising or training other social workers. Last March, Goldbaum received the 2016 National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring her work in helping the underserved and underprivileged in Illinois.

Goldbaum has worked in family therapy, general mental health, child mental health, substance abuse and other areas. She also has led social work programs at major hospitals, developed standards for methadone clinics, taught at the university level, and now, in private practice, conducts therapy with seniors, couples, families and individuals. Goldbaum  spends her spare time volunteering and is vice chairperson of the Age Options Advisory Council (an agency in suburban Cook County).

Over the years, Goldbaum has seen the demand for help grow while funding has dwindled. She’s hopeful, though. Under a new Illinois law, Medicaid will soon be required to reimburse social work. “The need is tremendous,” she says.

That need continues to drive her. At 73, she’s tried to slow down, but between work and volunteering, hasn’t succeeded yet. “I don’t seem to be able to retire,” she says, smiling. —Kate Silver

Tell us your story! To be considered for Alumni Achievement: email: mail: UIC Alumni, University of Illinois Alumni Association, 200 S. Wacker Dr., 19th FL., Chicago, IL 60606