Packing away the papers
White leaving DHR, 30-year career
By Mary-Allison Lancaster Managing editor
Carolyn White has the best advice for a 20-year-old; hard work and commitment make dreams come true. Her hard work and commitment at the Department of Human Resources in Brewton is coming to a near 30-year-end on Monday but her work and contribution will not go unnoticed.
White grew up in Atmore and made the 30-minute commute to Brewton for almost 30 years, minus the working stint she did in Atmore.
White ended up in Brewton when the office closed in Atmore and the department lumped it all together in an office located at 326 Evergreen Ave.
She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of South Alabama, attending school at night and working fulltime.
White finished school with her masters degree at the University of Alabama where she participated in the weekend programs and worked fulltime, as well.
She has been married to her husband, Don, since 1972 and together they had one daughter, Paula, who is now 28.
White has served as the Department of Human Resources Director for four years, and can remember the date exactly. "Nov. 4, 2000, and have been here for 29 years and five months," she said.
She is happiest when her family is all together, but since the hurricane she and the department have been working on overload. Things have changed since her first job as a babysitter during her teen years. She said her worst habit is to have the tendency to overwork herself.
White not only served as the director, she is the chairman of Escambia County Long Term Recovery Committee. She is a tribal member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and will become the tribe's new director of social and human services when she retires..
While White is sad and happy to retire, she said that her best asset is being optimistic.
The Department of Human Resources board will be interviewing candidates next week and should have a new director soon, White said. She added that the board is interviewing local candidates and has two in mind.
When White thinks about the future of the department, she hopes the people continue to "provide good customer service-from programs we offer-and continue to have a good working relationship with other social and government agencies."
The Long Term Recovery Board goes hand-in-hand with DHR and what each is trying to accomplish, especially during the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
White shares the same sentiment former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said in a press conference in Gulf Shores after the hurricane – it is good to see "neighbors helping neighbors," which needs to continue.
The board meets weekly to get case management started and she urges as many volunteers to help out as possible. She said there are currently 195 families, recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for whom the board is trying to get case management established.
Co-workers were throwing her a retirement party Friday afternoon. White cleaned out her office on Thursday and sat in a relatively vacant office Friday, aside from some important papers the next director will need.
What she says she will miss most about working at the department is "working with the employees."