Grace Lerro is a Licensed Social Worker and Team IMPACT’s Regional Director of Match-Up for the Mid-Atlantic region. Grace attended Elizabethtown College for her undergraduate degree in Social Work and went on to get her Masters in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to Team IMPACT, Grace worked at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. In her role there, she connected families experiencing a pediatric oncology diagnosis with psychosocial support and resources to help get their child to treatment. Grace now lives outside of Philadelphia and loves spending her free time down the shore, with family and friends, and with her puppy, Lincoln.
We asked Grace to sit down with us and chat a bit about her role at Team IMPACT and how her background in social work contributes to the success of our program.
I’ve always wanted to work in some combination of healthcare and with children/families. During my undergrad studies, I took a few general education classes in social work and became invested in using my skills to help others. As a social work major, I had an internship experience at a children’s hospital and knew I wanted to focus my education and future career in the social work field.
I actually learned about Team IMPACT earlier in my career and saw colleagues refer their patients to Team IMPACT for psychosocial support. The organization has always seemed like an amazing way to showcase the impact of sport and community. When a position in the Mid-Atlantic region became available, I was so excited for the opportunity to join the team and be a direct part of making matches possible.
As a Match-Up Specialist, I use so many clinical skills in conversations with families and teams. With families, we use active listening, assessment, and a lot of empathy to ensure we are finding the right kind of team to fit each child’s unique needs. We also use our clinical skills to train coaches and teams on the specific needs of their match. When educating a team about their match’s diagnosis, we explain the physical, developmental, and social components that go along with it. This not only helps the team feel comfortable and prepared but also gives them a broader perspective of the impact of our program.
Team IMPACT’s clinical model ensures that we are meeting the needs of each child at all stages of their time in the program. Our Intake Coordinators, Match-Up Specialists, and Case Managers are all trained to understand participants’ current needs and adapt as they grow and evolve within our program. No two matches are alike, and we are really able to personalize the support we are providing.
At Team IMPACT, we get to work with multiple populations all at once. While the kiddos we match are the primary recipients of our clinical services, we also get to see the impact of matches on our student-athlete participants. It’s really cool to see that ‘lightbulb moment’ for student-athletes when they realize this is more than just giving a local family a cool experience – it’s about building ongoing therapeutic relationships. We also have the opportunity as clinicians to reflect on and assess our processes and then implement changes to continue serving our participants in the best way possible.