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Social Worker

Social worker, Joan C. Warren, MSW, is a founding member of ALS Care Project and coined the name of the organization. She has faithfully served the ALS community since 1983, as a very caring social worker and counselor.  She has helped countless of ALS families in the local community cope with the emotional and physical aspects of the disease, while helping them to obtain healthcare benefits, including getting help at home. 

Joan Warren first met Pamela Cazzolli on March 18, 1984 at the Canton ALS Support Group, sponsored by the former Visiting Nurse Society (VNS) of Stark County.  Since then the two have worked together as a team in pursuing the ALS care mission.   This includes the two co-facilitating the Canton ALS Support Group together on Sunday afternoons bi-monthly for the next 24 consecutive years, before the group meetings transitioned to weekday/ evening meetings in 2008 until the present time. 

Warren began her long-term social worker services at the VNS in 1983, after obtaining her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and moved back to Stark County.  Through the VNS, she provided comprehensive psychosocial services to multitudes of people in the community who were chronically or terminally ill and required home care services.  For years, she served as the Coordinator of the Visiting Angel and Visiting Respite care programs and the Hospice Social Worker at the VNS.  Her duties also included serving as a facilitator of the ALS support group.  

Joan Warren has made a significant impact in Stark County, Ohio through the years.  She assiduously served the community with heartfelt compassion and dedication.  Joan’s ongoing assistance, encouragement and working together as a team with Cazzolli, helped make it possible to pursue the ALS care mission.  In 2008, Joan Warren received the Stark County Minority Health Award.  Although Joan is widely known for her contribution to the healthcare community, she will always be remembered for her contagious smile, good cheer, laughter, and consistently kind nature.  

Joan Warren’s history is remarkable.  She was born in Alliance, Ohio and reared with a servant’s heart by her mother and grandparents whose accomplishments were significant in the black history of our country.  Joan’s grandfather graduated from Morehouse University in Atlanta, Georgia, taught mathematics and served as a railroad engineer.  He also pastored a church in Alliance that was affiliated nationally with other churches.  As a result, Joan traveled extensively throughout the United States, while she was growing up.  

During Joan’s early childhood, her mother majored in English and music from Mount Union University and acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Tennessee State University.  Joan’s mother then taught English and music for the Alliance city schools, as well as teaching piano and singing lessons from the home. 

In 2006, Joan’s daughter, a teacher of language arts, won the Best Teacher of the Year Award for the State of Minnesota (out of 1000 nominees in the state).  In 2017, her daughter obtained a PhD Degree in Education. 

Finally, it is also significant that Joan’s aunt was the first black nurse hired at the former Mercy Hospital in downtown Canton, Ohio.   

Despite growing up as an African American in the 1940’s and 1950’s, this never hindered Joan to pursue her dream.  Her faith gave her the strength and ability to carry on through life’s trials and tribulations and paved the way for her successful future.        

Although Joan Warren turned 80 years old in 2017, she continues to serve as Editor of ALS Care Project publications.  She also serves on the Ethics Committee.  Joan and her grandfather, mother, daughter and aunt are truly “hidden figures” in the African American history of our country. 

Joan C. Warren, MSW

Joan Warren, MSW in 1984

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