Baylor University School of Social Work Recognizes Kentuckian as Honorary Alumna of the Year

May 10, 2012
Darla BaileyDarla Bailey of Louisville, Ky., has been honored as the Baylor School of Social Work Honorary Alumna of the Year. (Matthew Minard/Baylor University Marketing & Communications)

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WACO, Texas (May 10, 2012) -- Baylor University School of Social Work has recognized Darla Bailey of Louisville, Ky., as the Baylor School of Social Work Honorary Alumna of the Year. Founder of an innovative day health center for adults with disabilities -- a previously underserved population in the Louisville area -- Bailey is a proven pioneer in the field of social work and, through scholarships, is paving the way for future Baylor students to be equipped to do the same.

"Darla believes we are called to seek justice, and she has done it throughout her career for those who could not seek justice for themselves," said Diana Garland, Ph.D., dean of Baylor School of Social Work. "She is a prophetic voice in the sense of calling us to care for 'the least of these.' That's exactly what we want our alumni to be doing."

Bailey completed her undergraduate education in psychology at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas in 1987. In 1993, she went on to earn her Master of Social Work degree at the Carver School of Church Social Work, which was then in The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. During her time at Carver, Bailey's field practicum was held in a faith-based organization that hosted an adult day health program for seniors, a model that Bailey would later say informed the concept for an agency serving a younger population of adults, ages 21-60, with disabilities. Early on in her career as a social worker, she discovered that there was no place for this population to be cared for if they did not have family who could give them assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Instead, they were sent to live in institutions or nursing homes.

So, in 1998, one year after Southern Baptist Seminary closed the doors of Carver School of Church Social Work, Bailey opened the doors of Kaleidoscope Inc. - a place of learning, activity, therapy and professional medical care during the day so that clients could live at home with their families and not in an institution. With only a mailing list of 15 individuals in the area who might fit the program's criteria, it was a modest beginning. Two months after opening, however, the building was already at capacity with 17 participants, confirming Bailey's concern that the need for this type of agency was great. Her team began almost immediate renovation of the building, doubling its capacity to serve the local population. Today, after its third expansion, Kaleidoscope Inc. serves approximately 150 families in the Louisville area.

Consistently seeking to improve the quality of life for adults with disabilities and their caregivers, Bailey has become known in the Kentucky State Legislature as a tireless advocate for the population group.

"Because Darla is unrelenting when she's on a mission, we've had a lot of success," said Kentucky State Sen. Julie Denton. "She has bonded with a lot of legislators, myself included. We trust her. We know that she knows what she's talking about and that she's there for one reason only, and it's the best interest of the people she serves."

With no enduring alma mater, Bailey recognized Baylor School of Social Work as a place where the integration of theological and social work education -- the core of her Carver School legacy -- lives on. In 2006, Bailey, with the help of friends and other former Carver students, established an endowed scholarship at Baylor in honor of her former professor and founding dean of the Carver School of Church Social Work: C. Anne Davis. The Cora Anne Davis Memorial Scholarship assists Baylor graduate students who are pursuing a major in social work and demonstrate a commitment to the integration of Christian faith and social work.

"Darla's establishment of the scholarship in honor of Anne Davis said to the students in this place, 'You are my relatives,'" Garland said. "That claiming of the connection between our schools was just an incredible gift to us here at Baylor. We have been so glad to have her in our family."

Bailey has served on the Baylor School of Social Work Board of Advocates for the past three years.

About Baylor School of Social Work

The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and three joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Business Administration, MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit www.baylor.edu/social_work to learn more.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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