Social Workers given special recognition at inaugural event
Social work is a calling rather than a choice, guests at the first-ever Social Work Recognition Dinner in the Cayman Islands heard throughout the evening.
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) hosted the dinner and awards ceremony at the Grand Old House, where Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, Hon. Franz Manderson took the opportunity to commend the department’s social work staff.
He said: “You embody the purpose of the civil service, to make the lives of those we serve better. I appreciate that you work with the most vulnerable people in our islands and I am thankful for your dedication and commitment to service."
The gala evening also gave former social worker, and current Ministry of Community Affairs Chief Officer, Teresa Echenique, the chance to formally acknowledge the department’s social work and community development teams, while pledging increased support for them in the future.
Finally, DCFS Director Paulinda Mendoza Williams thanked her staff for their hard work, dedication and selflessness. In her welcome and opening remarks, she said: “Being change agents, social workers are always caring for others, while often times neglecting to care for ourselves and family.
“We at times shy away from the spotlight and welcome taking a back seat when we are the true champions of social change… Through all this we know what it is to be human and to be humane. By observing the theme: 'Elevate Social Work', let us reaffirm our commitment and dedication to our profession, the department and the people of the Cayman Islands as we continue to serve, embracing the highest standards of social work practice."
Attendees were given certificates of appreciation by Ms Echenique.
Additionally, the Deputy Governor presented Outstanding Social Work plaques to Kai Matthews-Mowatt, David Hunter, Kerry Parchman, Juliet Garricks, Kernita Bailey and Sophia Walker.
A special presentation was also given to DCFS Social Work Manager, Leanora Wynter-Young. The former Civil Service Employee of the Month in 2017, gave an impromptu speech in which she spoke of things she had learned in her 43-year career. She also shared an anecdote about her own first-hand experience of social workers’ power to change lives.
This concerned a troubled, pregnant teenage client that Mrs Wynter-Young checked on over the years. Years later, now a married mother-of-one, she contacted Mrs Wynter-Young to tell her that thanks to the social worker’s advice, she was about to graduate from law school, while her child was enrolled in a master’s degree in business administration.
The evening ended with a vote of thanks from Social Work Manager (Elderly Services), Cassandra Fearon.