I always like to say that New Hanover County has the “best and the brightest” employees who are committed to supporting and serving the community every day. We couldn’t serve the public well if it wasn’t for the outstanding efforts of our employees in every position, at every level, many of whom routinely go beyond the call of duty. They make our county great.
New Hanover County and our employees embrace the shared values of: professionalism, integrity, innovation, stewardship and accountability. These values guide us in all that we do and are the foundation of our employee recognition program, “Reach for the Stars.”
We launched Reach for the Stars in October 2014. A committee comprised of county staff developed the program and its essence is to encourage anyone – staff and citizens – to nominate county employees who have served the community and provided outstanding customer service. It is a way to reward those who live by the five shared values I mentioned above.
As part of this program, we held our second Reach for the Stars banquet on Wednesday, April 27, honoring hundreds of county employees who received recognition awards throughout the year, as well as the first “Five-Star Award” winners. The Five Star Award is the county’s highest recognition award for career achievement. Winners must have received at least five awards through the Reach for the Stars program and been recognized for at least four of our county’s five shared values.
Human Resources team members Bo Dean and Cheryl Knips were the first two county employees to receive this honor. Dean, who serves as the county’s training development coordinator, was recognized for his hands-on involvement with the county’s staff. By immersing himself in the roles of county employees, Dean develops innovate ways to engage, train and recognize employees in meaningful ways. Knips, an HR analyst, has been credited for developing and implementing a performance measurement system that has been put in practice across the county.
The successful work of these employees is allowing the county to move forward to meet the needs of citizens more efficiently. I am pleased that their efforts were recognized with this award, and I hope it encourages more acknowledgement of the wonderful work our staff is doing.
Everyone in our community has the opportunity to nominate county employees through the Reach for the Stars program. The Stellar Award recognizes county employees who have served the community, provided outstanding customer service, and demonstrated efforts toward making our county a better place. Employees can also be nominated for a Community Service Award for work in the community that goes beyond the scope of their jobs. Our employees volunteer, mentor, serve on boards, organize fundraisers and do much more. We want to make sure their efforts are acknowledged.
Since the Reach for the Stars program began, 288 Stellar Awards have been presented to employees whose work exemplifies one or more of the five shared values. Among the many awardees is Captain Scott Bradshaw of Engine 16 with New Hanover County Fire Rescue. Bradshaw received a Stellar Award for his leadership when his team helped paramedics in a medical situation and attended to a small children affected by the crisis. The nominator, a local paramedic, said “let me again offer my heartfelt thanks for the professionalism and compassionate care that was provided.” Bradshaw and his team helped a family, and their actions didn’t go unnoticed.
Another Stellar Award winner is Library Associate Max Nunez. Nunez created the annual Super Hero Fun Run around Myrtle Grove Library. Participants dress as super heroes and run the one-mile course while dodging water balloons, overcoming obstacles and facing super villains. The event’s activities tie into the county’s objectives of reducing childhood obesity and increasing literacy; this past year, the run also brought in more than 300 pounds in food donations. Nunez far exceeds his regular job in coordinating this race, and his work is making an impact on our community.
I could go on and on about the hundreds of Stellar Award employees, whose work ethic and public service are making a difference. Every day, people are doing things for each other that are special and powerful. New Hanover County wants to make sure these moments and the staff members who make them are remembered.
Internally, our employees are able to recognize their colleagues by sending a virtual “High Five.” This is a more informal way of saying “thank you” and recognizing a job well done. Since this virtual appreciation began, county employees have shared more than 6,400 High Fives with one another. It is a simple, quick acknowledgment of something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, or go unnoticed.
I want to encourage everyone to take notice of the good things around you and the county employees who are helping to make them possible. Nominate an employee for a Stellar or Community Service Award, and help us thank these dedicated public servants. To find out how, along with more information about our staff recognition efforts, please see the Reach for the Stars page on the county website.
The best possible customer service, for every citizen of the county, is another aspect of why we call New Hanover County “the model of good governance.”
New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow. See more at http://www.nhcgov.com.
Christina Haley O'Neal - Jan 27, 2020
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