Secretary/Administrative Day was Wednesday, marking the 55th anniversary of Administrative Professionals’ Week, formerly known as Secretary’s Week.
While the title, secretary, has evolved in recent years to include administrative assistant and executive assistant, most administrative personnel are known as secretaries.
There are millions of administrative personnel worldwide who play a crucial role in the day-to-day operations of their offices.
Examples of such dedicated professionals can be found locally, as well.
Sherry Strickland serves as the executive assistant to Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe and City Manager Billy Edwards.
Strickland has worked for the city for 28 years and has served as the executive assistant for 20 years.
“A good secretary must be patient, friendly, flexible, emphatic to the public, organized, and willing to go above and beyond,” Strickland said. “I feel good when I am able to help people. It is good to have good people to work with. I have worked with five mayors and have been fortunate to have great bosses,” she said.
Strickland said some of her duties include scheduling appointments, maintaining files, preparing in-town and out-of-town conferences, serving as the liaison with the public for the mayor and city manager, and handling complaints.
Strickland recalled the times when the budget was done on the typewriter and collating was done while sitting on the floor. “It is rewarding when I am able to help the public and to know I have been a part in resolving the problem. The city of Hinesville has grown,” Strickland said.
Vanessa Williams is the executive assistant at Bethesda Church in Hinesville, where Tim Byler serves as pastor.
“I have worked at the church for 13 years, and was recently promoted from secretary to executive assistant,” Williams said. “I love meeting people and serving their needs. When someone visits the church during the week, I am the first person they see. My attitude sets the tone for the visit. I enjoy working with people and my heart goes out to them,” she said.
Williams performs a variety of tasks during the course of the day. Bethesda has about 350 members.
She and Sabrina Klassen, who is also administrative personnel, schedule appointments, type, assist with finances, keep records of members and visitors, prepare correspondence and perform other administrative duties.
“I also do some counseling. A lot of times, people want someone to listen to them and pray with them. I enjoy being a servant, and it is a joy to be a blessing to others,” Williams said.
She also serves as an usher/greeter at the church, and has taken counseling classes and received a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry.
“Everybody is not qualified to be a secretary. You have to know how to hold things in confidence. You must know how to keep your mouth closed,” she said. “I never thought I would be in this position. I have really fallen in love with what I am doing. It is a business, as well as a ministry.”
Williams said working at Bethesda has been a blessing.