In memory of Janine Granchelli, RSW

Prepared by Suzanne McKenna, RSW (retired) and Janine’s colleagues in the Long Term Care Unit.

On December 31st, 2013, the profession of social work in New Brunswick and Canada lost one of our own, Janine Granchelli.  Janine started her career in Cape Breton, NS but soon moved to Moncton where she was hired by the Dept of Social Development.  She was still in their employ at the time of her death although she had announced that she was to retire in 2014.

Provided by Janine’s Long Term Care Unit colleagues
Janine’s career as a social worker spanned 38 years, 26 of those with the Department of Social Development. During these years with the Department, she worked in Child Protection, Child Care, as an Adult Residential Facility Coordinator and in the Long Term Care and Disability Support Programs.  She was very much client focused and worked tirelessly to assure the best services for those clients.  As a colleague, she was always there for us, lending a helping hand and inquiring about us and our families.  She was a great organizer.  She will be greatly missed by her colleagues and her clients.

There are many words that could be used to describe Janine.  Here are but a few:

One that often comes to mind is hard working and giving.  Almost as soon as Janine moved to NB, she became involved in the NBASW.  Until a few years ago, Janine was a constant in the Association.  It is a fact that Janine put in hours and hours AND HOURS of volunteer time to association work.  Her many commitments in the NBASW are too numerous to list but here are a few: Director for her local chapter at least twice; Chair of the Education Committee; the Association’s Director on the Board of the Canadian Association of Social Workers for six years; President of the NBASW for two terms.  In addition, Janine involved herself in numerous other committees and projects such as spearheading the work on the Continuing Education Policy project which resulted in the policy that is still in use to this day; and, co-chairing with Genevieve Forest-Allard the organizing committee for the National Social Work Conference which the Association hosted in 2002 – a resounding success.

It would have been easy to say that because Janine had no children of her own, she could afford this time when others could not.  To conclude that would be very unfair since Janine had a family whom she loved to spend time with beyond all else and, while she gave her time willingly, the many weekends away, the many hours she had to make up at work to cover volunteer time on association business came at a toll, without any doubt.  It is probably safe to say that she gave more time to the NBASW than anyone else in our history and for that, we owe Janine our thanks and immense gratitude.

Caring, committed and dedicated:  for Janine, social work was not a job.  Nor was it simply a career choice.  It was for her a calling in the true sense of the word.  It was who she was.  It was the way she lived her life, both at the office and out.  She found in social work a way to put into practice the very values that she espoused throughout her life – service to humanity, respect for inherent dignity and worth of persons; the pursuit of social justice.

Dedication to her clients: To Janine, her clients came first; they were what mattered – not the paperwork, not the bureaucratic requirements, but the clients.  She would have done anything in her power to help them.

Proud social worker:  To say that Janine was proud of being a social worker is to put it mildly.  She never shied away from that identity, never.

Professional always, ethical to the utmost degree: Janine knew her Code of Ethics and lived by it.  She thought of herself as a professional social worker first and an employee carrying out a social work role second.  And, she was always clear about the lines that she needed to draw between the demands of the work place and her responsibilities as a professional social worker.

As a professional social worker, she felt a sense of responsibility to the profession – as can be demonstrated by her involvement in the NBASW.  But, in addition, Janine often supervised students in their placements because she believed that it was important for her to share her experience and knowledge and to help train those entering the profession.

Competent: To Janine, her clients deserve the best service we can provide.  This meant that one should keep one’s skills honed and one’s knowledge current.  She believed strongly that as professionals, we have a responsibility to continue our learning always.

A good organizer, organized and dependable:  Janine always came to meetings prepared, and the many projects in which she was involved at the Association showed what a great organizer she was – nothing was insurmountable, if one believed Janine.  There was always a way.  And, when Janine committed to doing something, she did it – period.

A social activist: Janine practiced social action in her own quiet and sometimes not so quiet way, in her every day practice.  If she saw that clients were going to be negatively affected by a proposed change in policy, a program cut, or reduction in resources, Janine would be the first to speak up.

She also firmly believed that the Association could be a voice for social workers constrained by their work situation from speaking out and during her terms as President, she used her position, potentially at a risk to herself at times, to speak out on issues of social injustice.

Janine was not one to seek glory – in fact, she very much disliked being made the center of attention and always shied away from anything being done in her honour.  She even hated having her picture taken.

However, she was twice publicly recognized during her career by the NBASW.  In 2001, she received the Canadian Association of Social Work Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession and in 2008, she was presented the Raoul Leger Award in recognition of her contribution to the NBASW, her overall promotion of the profession, her social action and advocacy work, and her ongoing distinguished career.

Like all of us, Janine was not perfect.  She could be stubborn, daunting, tenacious, and probably a little intimidating to some at times – people with strong personalities can have that effect on others occasionally.  She did not suffer fools lightly, as the saying goes, but she also very understanding and compassionate.  She was very honest and truthful, maybe some times a little too much, and she usually had no fear of calling a spade a spade – in other words, of voicing her opinion.  And, you usually knew where you stood with Janine.  However, she usually spoke her mind only if she felt that she had something important to say that needed to be said.

Janine was a strong woman

-who always strived for excellence,
-who never shied away from hard work,
-who had very strong beliefs and opinions but who could compromise when necessary,
-who believed in people but who was also a realist,
-who inspired,
-for whom no challenge was too great,
-who gave tirelessly to all those around her both professionally and in her private life
-who touched more lives than any of us will ever know in so many special ways
-who made a difference
-who was an exemplary social worker

The profession of social work in NB and Canada has lost a star - one of our greats.  Her passing has certainly created a void which will be hard to fill.