Ellisville State School recently announced the 2019 Employee of the Year winners. The agency typically honors staff at a ceremony held each year in April. However, this year administrators were confronted with an obstacle – COVID-19.
“We were not able to physically meet together as usual,” explained ESS Director Rinsey McSwain. “We would have celebrated more than 40 of our direct support staff with a wonderful seafood meal sponsored by our Family and Friends organization. But this year we had to honor our top winners with a smaller, informal presentation.”
Heidelberg resident Santana Arrington from the Hillside Unit was selected as the overall 2019 Ellisville State School Employee of the Year. Other winners were Maria Perez, Ellisville, Pecan Grove Unit; Martha McDaniel, Laurel, Paul D. Cotten, Sr. Unit; and Areometha Gardner, Prentiss, Community Programs.
Arrington said she was surprised when informed she was the Employee of the Year recipient. “I was told about winning the award for my unit, but I had no idea I was the overall winner,” she said. “I was not expecting this at all. I am very happy and I appreciate this honor and recognition so much.”
John Wilson, Nursing Home Administrator for the Hillside Unit, praised Arrington for her job performance. “As a highly competent caregiver, she brings a hard-working, service-focused, and dedicated mindset to her role,” he said. “She is committed to improving the overall personal health and well-being of the people we serve through first-rate personal care and engagement… Her contribution has been none other than exceptional.”
The other three honorees were lauded for their outstanding work as well. Each winner received a plaque and gifts from community sponsors of the program.
All recipients expressed surprise and gratitude for the honors. “I am shocked, yet truly honored,” said Gardner. “This has been a tough few months and it’s scary out here, but you’ve got to keep pushing. You have to stayed prayed up and take care of yourself and the people you serve.”
McDaniel stated that she is thankful to be blessed with such an honor. “I guess they noticed my hard work,” she said. “I love to stay busy. I just love to come to work and see and hear the reactions of the people we serve. They make my day and motivate me to do what I do.”
Perez, who has relocated out of state, was unavailable for comment
ESS wishes to thank the following sponsors for their support: ESS Family and Friends Association; Josh Cline of Aflac; Kyle Knight, Elkins Wholesale; Community Bank; the ESS Credit Union; and the ESS Employee Recognition Fund.
2020 marks 100 years of ESS proudly serving Jones County and surrounding communities.