By Maria Jose Subiria
With eight years of service to the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services, Lynda Black was recently recognized for her hard work and dedication.
An employment services specialist for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, Black was named agency's 2008 employee of the year.
"My heart jumped, and I was surprised," said Black. "I am a very talkative person, but when I found out I won, I was speechless."
Black was also employee of the month for August 2008.
"She's just had such a commitment to the agency," said Cathy Ratti, Region 16 director for the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.
Region 16 includes Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties.
There were a total of 12 employees, including Black, in the running for the employee of the year title. All were named employees of the month during 2008.
Ratti said each employee of the month is interviewed by the local Department of Family and Children Services Board of Directors, and completes a questionnaire that asks for their input on departmental improvements.
The 2008 employee of the year was announced on Feb. 18, at the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services office, at 877 Battlecreek Road, Jonesboro.
"Lynda's demeanor, and her calmness comes across to the clients," said Ratti. "And that came across to most of our staff here."
Black works in the Economic Support Division at the department. She is responsible for helping clients find jobs to prevent them from going onto assistance rolls.
"I've utilized the welfare system when I first came here with my two sons in 1997," said Black. "I've been at the other side of the desk before ... welfare is not enough for any family."
According to Black, most of the clients she sees are unemployed. The application for assistance takes 45 days, but most of that time is spent helping clients look for stable jobs. Clients who apply for assistance must take assessments, and participate in activities that will help them hone their working skills.
"We see to it that they hopefully get employed within the first three weeks," said Black. "The TANF application does not get approved until the 42nd day."
Black, who hails from Pascagoula, Miss., obtained a bachelor's degree in child psychology from the University of Washington.
"I like what I do. It's a service position, and I like helping people on a social level," said Black. "I get to be of service to children through their parents."
After she graduated from the University of Washington in 1980, Black worked for the Boys and Girls Club as a program director for two years.
Before returning to Mississippi, she worked as an office assistant for the University of Washington Medical Center for four years.
"I moved back to Mississippi, and then moved to Atlanta in 1997," said Black. "It just reminded me so much of Seattle."