March 16, 2004
DSS SOCIAL WORKER NAMED COUNTY EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
RUNNER-UP AWARD ALSO GOES TO A SOCIAL WORKER
CHARLOTTE, NC – For her creative and inspiring approach to Community Social Work, and the leadership, planning and collaboration she used to help send deserving students and their families on a memorable trip, Wanda R. Moss is the Mecklenburg County Gerald G. Fox Employee of the Year. The award was announced this evening at the Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Moss is a Community Social Worker with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). She has worked for the County since May 1996. She provides services to inner-city communities in the County, including Dillehay Courts, Tryon Hills and the parents and pupils at Highland Renaissance Academy.
Moss developed a plan to engage families, the school, community partners and DSS to send high achieving students and their families to Disney World at the end of the school year to celebrate their success. Students had academic goals to meet and parents had to attend workshops on topics such as budgeting, stress management and getting ready for end of grade testing. Students and parents committed to volunteer hours and community service projects. A total of 96 people representing Highland Renaissance Academy made the trip. She was able to make the $23,573 trip happen with help from churches, area businesses, parents' contributions, individual donors and fund-raisers.
This year she hopes to make the trip to Disney with 175 people representing six schools and children in Mecklenburg County foster care.
In addition to the Disney World trip, Moss worked with other agencies to help children and youth that live in public housing at Dillehay Court, create a community mural. The 40' by 20'mural's title is "Future Hopes and Dreams for the Dillehay Court Children." She also works with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in its Computer Access in Neighborhoods (CAN) program to help ensure the children in the public housing complex have access to computers. She works with seniors in the community, too, helping them connect with resources.
She also helps with the "Share a Haircut" program sponsored by Hair Cuttery in partnership with the DSS Community Resources Office. The program provides free haircuts for students from low-income families.
Named for the former county manager, the Gerald G. Fox Employee of the Year Award is sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and is now in its 41st year. It is given to a Mecklenburg County employee whose contributions to the county and the community exceed what is required in the job.
Award winners receive $200, a gift certificate and a plaque from the Charlotte Chamber. A permanent display in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center is also engraved with the winner's name.
Maria Genie is the County's runner-up for Employee of the Year. She is a social worker in the DSS Services for Adults Division. Genie has worked for the County since May 2000. She manages a full caseload that includes non English-speaking clients. She serves on the Mecklenburg County Diversity Council and is a member of the Department of Social Services Future Leaders Program.
Genie interprets for Spanish-speaking clients applying for services, and she helps translate documents. She developed a portable display board in Spanish about Services for Adults to help with community education. She's helped educate staff about Latino cultures, and led focus groups in Spanish to identify customer needs, and for the Status of Seniors Report. She was a leader in developing the DSS Limited English Proficiency Policy.
One of her most rewarding efforts is the work she does in collaboration with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. As a presenter for the Life Skills Program for Latino inmates, Genie provides information and clarifies myths and misconceptions about the programs and services provided by DSS.
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Media contact: Suzanne Jeffries at 704-353-0774 or