20 Inspirational Quotes for Social Workers

Are you looking for some quotes to inspire and motivate you?

Here are 20 inspiring quotes that are especially apropos for those who are looking to make a difference, or are thinking about making an important change in their life…

one person make a difference

  1. One person can make a difference, and everyone should try. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  2.  Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
  3. The time is always right to do what is right. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  4. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  – Robert F. Kennedy
  5. The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own. – Benjamin Disraeli 
  6. At this very moment, there are people only you can reach…and differences only you can make. –
    Mike Dooley
  7. Never, never, be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  8. It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do. – Moliere
  9. It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson 
  10. Diversity makes for a rich tapestry. We must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter their colour; equal in importance no matter their texture. – Maya AngelouAnne Frank quote
  11. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world. – Anne Frank 
  12. There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life. – Mary Rose McGeady
  13. True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice. – Martin Luther King
  14. The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake. – Meister Eckhart
  15.  No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
  16.  Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate. – Albert Schweitzer
  17.  Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.  – Deepak Chopra
  18. I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. –
    Oprah Winfrey
  19. Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death…Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, stimulated- what gives you your juice. Do what you love, give it back in the form of service, and you will do more than succeed. You will triumph. – Oprah Winfrey
  20. Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing. – Helen Keller

Life is a daring adventure

What do you think of these quotes? Is there one quote that speaks to you in particular and if so, how? Do you have any other motivating quotes that you’d like to share? 


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing these. I think a well thought through aphorism can be a spur to action. While I was familiar with some of the quotations above there are many that I had not come across.

    I have a few that run through my own head and perhaps because I usually favour the longer form, there are a few poems that I find particularly inspiring from Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ to Polonius’ famous speech in Hamlet which is ironic, given the context which was intended but it has some great lines particularly ‘This above all things, to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man’ (but the rest of the speech has some little gems as well).
    Then another very obvious favourite is Kipling’s ‘If’

    ‘IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:’

    That’s the first ‘verse’ but it’s worth finding the whole poem.

    I’m sure I’ll think up more as the day progresses!

  2. says

    Thanks so much, cb, for sharing these great sources of inspiration :)

    I love the idea of having some poems and/or wonderful speeches to read (or sections thereof) for this purpose. This way, you have much more
    “meat” to chew on, so to speak.

    If you think of more as the day progresses, please come back to share!

    Thanks again,

  3. says

    I just posted a long comment, that seems to have been eaten. Oh well, I shall try again. My number one inspiration, quote, whatever, at the moment, is actually “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons. I can’t listen to that song without thinking of work. (In a good way.)

    I know my call despite my faults
    And despite my growing fears

    But I will hold on hope
    And I won’t let you choke
    On the noose around your neck

    And I’ll find strength in pain
    And I will change my ways
    I’ll know my name as it’s called again

  4. says

    Thanks so much for sharing “The Cave.” This is a lovely song…

    I can see why this is your favorite. It embodies quite a bit of what we need to think of and do in our work :)

    Thanks again,

    P.S. Sorry that the internet/computer “ate” your first version… but am most appreciative that you persevered so that we could have a chance to enjoy this song!

  5. says

    I love this post. Also in terms of “The Cave” our minds most be thinking alike as I put it on my blog a few days ago.

    One of my fave quotes is the following……..

    Be mindful of your thoughts; your thoughts become words.
    Be mindful of your words; your words become actions.
    Be mindful of your actions; your actions become habits.
    Be mindful of your habits; your habits become your character.
    Be mindful of your character; your character becomes your destiny.

    I don’t know who wrote this but I love it!

  6. says

    Thanks so much, Btrflygl, for your kind feedback and for sharing these lovely mindfulness quotes :)

    These are full of wisdom…

    As I’m re-reading them, I’m also picking up on the inherent cognitive behavioral component as well – how our thoughts > feelings > behaviors!

    Thanks again,

  7. says

    These are great Dorlee!

    Since we’re sharing lyrics, let me add my fave from James “Sit Down:”

    Those who feel the breath of sadness
    Sit down next to me
    Those who find they’re touched by madness
    Sit down next to me
    Those who find themselves ridiculous
    Sit down next to me

  8. says

    I’m so glad, Mike, that you are enjoying these :)

    Thanks so much for sharing your favorite lyric “Sit Down.”

    It’s beautiful – showing how you will be there for your client/friend/relative regardless of how she/he feels.

    Thanks again,

  9. says

    Dorlee, that’s not an easy journey. I’m pleased to have been able to extend my “hand” in help.

    Favourite quotes? That is temporal. I find that the “just right” one comes into my world when needed.

    Often, I find that the characters in whatever fiction I’m reading say something that resonates for me. Life imitating art imitating life?

  10. says


    No it’s not….Thanks again for having been there :)

    Re the quotes, you raise a very good point. Some quotes/poems may be just right at one time and others at a different time.

    How lovely that the right one tends to find its way to you just when needed!


  11. says

    Wonderful post, Dorlee, and I love the comments, too. I’m not feeling especially in touch with an inspirational place tonight, so I think I’ll need to sit with it for a while.

    I’m very glad to hear your friend is recuperating and that you were able to visit him. Welcome home!

  12. says


    I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post and the wonderful additions by cb, socialjerk, Btrflygl, Mike and Marianna.

    That’s totally fine if nothing inspirational came to you right now…

    Re my friend, thanks so much. I was very grateful to have been able to visit and spend some quality time with him.

    To my delight, while he is still in pain and recuperating, he looked/felt much better than I had expected and this gives me some hope for a better prognosis.

    Also, thanks for your lovely welcome back :)


  13. says

    Hi Dorlee,
    Love the collection of quotes here!
    My personal favorite that keeps me going always is “It is not how much we do,
    but how much love we put in the doing.
    It is not how much we give,
    but how much love we put in the giving.” by Mother Teresa.
    Thank you for these inspiring quotes :)
    Muhc Love,

  14. says

    Hi Zeenat,

    Thanks so much for your kind feedback and for sharing your favorite quote by Mother Teresa.

    It’s beautiful :)

    Thanks again,

  15. says

    The Aesop quote on kindness is one that holds much meaning for me – and is always so, so good to hear.

    A favorite of mine is: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to leave the world a better place … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Sending comfort and peace to you and your friend…

    Much peace,

  16. says


    Thanks so much for sharing that the Aesop quote on kindness has special meaning for you.

    I think that it describes in many ways what you do via your site and your day-to-day actions :)

    Also, thanks for sharing your favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote – it’s beautiful! It captures so much of what is truly important.

    Re my friend, I really appreciate your kind thoughts and wishes…

    Much peace and best wishes,

  17. says

    Hi Coco,

    Thanks so much for visiting and sharing this quote :)

    I love the message that it conveys – essentially leaving it up to the person to do what is needed and not relay on others – it’s the message of “empowerment,” the essence of social work!

  18. says

    Thanks so much for posting these! I update my facebook page everyday for inspirational quotes and today i thought i’d try and find some for social workers and i found your page!!
    Thanks so much for posting these my fellow colleage

  19. says

    It was my pleasure, Darick !

    Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your kind feedback.

    While you are here, may I ask what other topics would be of interest to you?

  20. Alexis says

    I work for Children Services in PA and this is one of my most favorite quotes!!!!

    “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

  21. Anonymous says

    I just wanted to let you know that I just found your site and am really enjoying the different links and comments! I am in the early stages of obtaining my MSW and have found the information very helpful.

  22. Anonymous says

    Thanks for posting these! I was searching for a good social work quote to frame for my MSW Secret Santa gift, and now I can’t choose which one! :)

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