By: Elyse Notarianni
Last week, we welcomed Jamie Meconi to the team! With 11 years of experience under her belt, Jamie is COHME’s newest social worker.
What got you started in social work? I was a criminal justice and sociology major in college. At the time, I thought I might want to go to law school, so I did an internship with a juvenile probation office. That was the first time I really saw what social workers do. The more I saw their work, the more I realized that was the direction I wanted to go. I initially thought I wanted to work with adolescents, but I ended up doing an internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York when I was in grad school, and I fell in love with medical social work.
What made you want to work with older adults?
When I was working in hospitals, I worked primarily with older adults. I realized that the issues they face, especially in a hospital or healthcare setting, are things we just don’t think about. So many people don’t have a family member or friend there to advocate for them. I couldn’t help but think, “Oh my gosh, what if this was my family member? How would I want them to be treated?” I wanted to make sure people always have someone there for them.
What is something you’ve learned from working with older adults?
What sticks out to me the most is that when someone is aging, they’re so often treated like they’re unable to make decisions for themselves or their care. But what I’ve learned is that older adults are so capable. When I come in, I’m not there to make decisions for them — I’m there to support them and advocate for what they want for their own lives. Even in cases with cognitive impairments or decline, there are still ways to support someone’s autonomy, independence and dignity.
What brought you to New York?
I came to New York for grad school, but growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, my parents always took us to trips to New York. I always loved it, and I knew I’d want to move here one day. I spent several years in the city, then moved to Colorado for a few years. I ended up back in New York right before Covid hit — which, looking back, wasn’t great timing, but it was nice to be on the East Coast with my family.
What does your life look like outside of work?
I love traveling. My goal is to visit all 50 states. I have quite a few to go, and I haven’t done a lot over the last couple years, but I’ve been able to do some great weekend trips close by. I studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand when I was in college, and I most recently went to Croatia, which I loved.
My husband is also a chef, so I love to go to new restaurants. I also got into running when I moved back, so I love to pick new routes to see the city on foot.