FORT WALTON BEACH — CareerSource Gulf Coast recognized the CareerSource Okaloosa Walton board as Hurricane Michael Heroes June 5 for the work they did in the aftermath of the hurricane.
CSGC Executive Director Kim Bodine expressed appreciation for the support her region received in the weeks following Hurricane Michael. She concluded with a presentation of awards to CareerSource Okaloosa Walton staff members who went above and beyond in their efforts.
Entitled Hurricane Michael Hero, the awards presented included a quote by the late Maya Angelou that reads, "I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people."
"These awards are just a small token for the post-disaster response from CareerSource Okaloosa Walton workforce partners," Bodine said.
"These individuals left their families, air-conditioned homes and the amenities with which we are accustomed," she added. "They came into a hurricane-devastated area with no electricity and little cell phone service. They worked out of both a mobile unit powered by generators and the front of our hot/humid, moldy, flooded job center to help us serve our citizens. Words really are not enough to express the gratitude we have for their support after this disaster."
Michael made landfall Oct. 10, 2018 in the Florida panhandle, destroying or damaging much along its path.
For the CSGC staff, the destruction caused issues that were personal as well as professional. Homes, vehicles and lives were wrecked. Communication was limited, and staff members were displaced.
There was also grave concern about how the region would serve its community when electricity, internet access and technology was unavailable.
CSGC's 18,000-square-foot job center was also severely damaged, forcing relocation to a temporary office at CC Washington Academy in Panama City.
CSOW Executive Director Michele Burns contacted Bodine before and after the hurricane, asking what resources were needed and seeing to it that they were made available.
•Over six weeks, the organization provided seven staff members — Terry Cowan, Lashunda Thomas, Mary Travis, Valerie McLaughlin, Randy Hunter, Rickelle Giles and Babette Southard — who aided residents with Disaster Unemployment Assistance applications.
•CSOW also provided a fully-functional mobile unit equipped with computers and Internet access.
•Through their support, CareerSource Gulf Coast was able to assist more than 10,000 individuals apply for Emergency Disaster Unemployment Assistance.