The Ellen Constance Caring Spirit Award
In the summer of 2020, Children’s Home & Aid lost an extremely valuable member of our team. Ellen Constance, Director of Child Welfare in the Southern Region, passed away after a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Her loss is deeply felt by her family and friends and her colleagues who loved and respected her. Our grief is softened only by the knowledge of the difference she made in the lives of hundreds of children and families in her more than 20 years with Children’s Home & Aid.
This year, our Southern region decided to honor Ellen’s memory with the first annual Ellen Constance Caring Spirit Award. Nominations were based on how an individual staff person demonstrates care and compassion for the clients they serve. This award preserves Ellen’s memory by honoring the contributions of the next generation of caseworkers who are caring for children and families to the level that Ellen set.
After numerous, commendable nomination entries, case manager Takia Roberts was chosen as the first ever Caring Spirit Award recipient at a virtual award ceremony.
When Takia first began as a case manager in December of 2019, recent staff turnover meant that Ellen stepped up to provide direct supervision for one case manager. That case manager was Takia.
Takia’s current supervisor, Program Supervisor Molly Skawski, nominated her for this award and describes her as a natural in her role. “Tenacity is Takia’s superpower,” Molly tells us.
Takia once worked with a 19-year-old who was initially denied for an independent living program due to recent behaviors, but Takia did not take no as a final answer. She understood and vocalized that the teenager was acting that way precisely because she felt a lack of agency and hope about reaching her goals. Takia came up with a plan for the teenager, including getting her re-enrolled in a college program, and bringing support and resources to the table that she then presented to the independent living program. She turned that no to a yes, and in the process, she showed that teenager there is someone in her corner and it is possible to achieve her goals.
“I’m a firm believer it takes a special person to be a case manager, and part of that specialness is a certain Ellen-like level of grit, humor, and grace. Takia is always seen with a smile on her face, and the optimism and passion that she has for the work is inspiring.” – Takia’s supervisor Molly Skawski
Molly says when she began supervising Takia, she was the newest caseworker. Today, she is the veteran of four case managers, and she is a natural leader on the team, mentoring new staff and helping them to feel a sense of connection to the team and the agency, even during this difficult time of covid-19 remote work.
Children’s Home & Aid would also like to recognize the additional staff members who were nominated – thank you to Beth Hunter, Pat Drisdel, Christa Mizulski, Shari Schweppe-Streiler, and Vivian Thompson for all of their dedication and hard work.
Thank you to the Southern region for taking the time to honor Ellen Constance, and all that our nominees do for children and families every day.
What a lovely tribute to Ellen. She was such a special person and cared so deeply about her work and the impact she could have on so many kids who truly needed her. She was my sister-in-law and friend and we all miss her dearly. Congratulations to Takia and all the nominees. Ellen is definitely smiling down on you all.