By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Today marks Dorothy Davis’ last day as human service coordinator at the Edgecombe County Health Department. Davis is retiring from a 35-year career of public service.
To Davis, 62, working with families and children is not just a job; it’s a calling.
“I would still be doing the same thing if I wasn’t even a paid employee,” Davis said. “I’ve always had that knack of wanting to help people. Helping people helps me. It’s my own ministry.”
Davis has worked at the health department in child service coordination for 20 years, six months. The most rewarding part of Davis’ job is seeing a parent whose child she once helped and being thanked by that parent for the support he/ she received through the health department.
“A lot of families we impact just by being there. We provide that support system,” Davis said. “I just know that families need that support system, especially with the economy the way it is.”
Davis refers children from birth up to age 5 for health and speech screenings as well as the special federal supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and ensures that they are up to date on physical examinations and immunizations. She said the goal is to make sure the children enter preschool or kindergarten “ready to learn.”
“Some parents are not aware of services. Some parents do not know how to go out and tap these resources, and that’s what we’re there for as social workers,” Davis said. “I just feel good about having had the opportunity to help families.”
Although she will miss the families with whom she works and the health department staff, Davis appreciates the “blessing and opportunity to be able to retire.”
“I’m going to rest a while and then I’m going to continue to be out there working with families, but I won’t be on any timeline,” Davis said. She is the chairperson of the Hobgood Citizen Group, founding member of the Community Enrichment Organization, and has served on many boards for community progress. In her retirement, Davis looks forward to spending more time with her son, Tony Davis, goddaughter, Sharonda Staton, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“We’re going to miss her. As always, we wish anybody in their retirement a long and happy retirement.” said Karen Lachapelle, health department director. She said she is confident that the department will find a candidate to fill Davis’ position, but “longevity – the years of service and experience – that’s always hard to replace.”
“The whole health department is going to miss her because she does a lot for us,” said Shannon Barnes, social work supervisor at the health department. In addition to her regular job duties, Davis educates the department about what’s happening in the community and makes coffee for the staff every morning, said Barnes. Davis previously was named health department employee of the year and employee of the quarter.
Prior to working at the health department, Davis worked at the Department of Social Services in Medicaid for three years. She began her career in public service at NEED, Inc., (Nash/ Edgecombe County Economic Development) after graduating from Shaw University with a degree in behavior science sociology. Davis worked at the non-profit organization for 12 years, helping families secure jobs and housing.
Davis’ other accomplishments and community contributions include being a Downeast Partnership for Children community fellow and a University of North Carolina early childhood fellow, co-nominating Dr. Moses A. Ray and George Higgs for the Twin Counties Hall of Fame, and beginning many community projects while employed with NEED, Inc., including coordinating a softball league and setting up a Headstart center in Pinetops and a daycare center in Speed.