Spotlight on Social Work: Interview with LifeWay’s Social Worker, Sabrina Zottoli

March is Social Work Awareness Month! During this time, we celebrate the field of social work and recognize those who do this important work. LifeWay is proud to have an in-house social worker, Sabrina Zottoli, who provides restorative care to each resident. We sat down with Sabrina to learn about her work with survivors.

Sabrina Zottoli, LMSW, provides holistic, trauma-informed care and crisis intervention to survivors in LifeWay’s two safe houses. In her role, she promotes their physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Twice a week Sabrina facilitates trauma-informed workshops that enhance the survivors’ healing journeys through education, mindfulness, and team-building skills. Sabrina has a person-centered and strengths-based approach to her work, which honors each individual’s culture, values, and perspectives. Sabrina has always had a passion for working in anti-trafficking and started pursuing this passion while working in Vietnam. After completing her Masters at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Science, Sabrina interned at an anti-trafficking agency in NYC and before joining LifeWay, worked with people affected by homelessness and domestic violence. In her free time, Sabrina prioritizes self-care and loves to skateboard, write poetry, and tend to her house plants.

1. What brought you to Lifeway Network?

I have a passion for anti-trafficking work. Also, I wanted to work in a smaller setting where I would have an opportunity to focus in-depth on residents’ well-being and needs. My previous work was in a public shelter with a caseload of 75 families—at times more than 200 individuals. Working with that volume of cases felt like I was putting Band-Aids on situations that needed more comprehensive support. I wanted to make a larger impact in a person’s life and being a social worker in a small residential setting allows me to truly work with each person in whichever capacity they need.

2. Describe your role at LifeWay.

I work in two safe houses providing holistic, trauma-informed therapeutic services and crisis intervention. I work closely with the house manager, resident assistants, and host community to create a warm, inviting environment for everyone who lives or works there. I also provide therapeutic workshops twice a week to empower and educate the survivors.

3. What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t think there is a typical day when you work with human beings! Every day is so vastly different, which to me, makes it beyond enjoyable. I know that if today was stressful and busy, tomorrow may be quiet and laid back. The only constant in my day is building trust and greeting whoever passes by my office. I always ensure that I have an open-door policy to talk, share a meal, or respond to any questions or concerns.

4. What brings you to work every day?

Knowing that these survivors welcome me on their healing journey. It is such an honor to share this part of their life with them.

5. What have you learned from working at LifeWay?

I started at LifeWay one year ago, on the day NYC went into a Pause. I have had a lot of learning experiences starting a new job during a global pandemic, but my biggest takeaway has been my commitment to my work and my professional ethics. I value consistency in my own life and bring that to my work with trauma survivors. When the entire world shut down, consistency was stripped from everyone, but this was something I held on to for myself and the residents. I learned more than ever before about my resiliency and ability to work in a crisis-oriented environment. Reflecting on this past year, I feel strong. You don’t know how much strength you have until you reflect and process what you’re able to overcome and accomplish.