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Youth challenge instructor honored
Making a difference: Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Academy counselor Elaine Lacy stands with her husband and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue after receiving her 2007 Excellence in Customer Service Award. - photo by Photo provided.
When Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Academy counselor Elaine Lacy walks into the office each morning, she is focused on one thing: What she can do that day to help each of her cadets continue toward a brighter future.
From assisting the boys of the Bravo Four platoon with learning new life skills and completing classroom coursework to just being available to discuss personal issues, she sees every day as an opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life.
But while she has been busy influencing the lives of others, Lacy recently took time to allow something and someone else to impact her own life.
The counselor was one of only six individuals statewide awarded the 2007 Excellence in Customer Service Award by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue last month, putting her in a select group of state employees who “demonstrate helpful, courteous and knowledgeable service to citizen.”
“Part of making Georgia the best-managed state is improving customer service and recognizing those employees who provide it,” the governor said during the award ceremony held at the Georgia World Congress Center. “These awards highlight exemplary employees and their commitment to changing processes and attitudes to provide faster, friendlier, and easier service for the citizens of Georgia.”
According to Lacy, the award came as a welcome surprise, especially since she had already decided she would not be chosen as a winner.
“I was surprised to get the award because I didn’t even know my boss had sent in the nomination,” she said with a laugh. “Then (my boss) let me know I was in the final few, and I was like, ‘Uh huh, whatever, I’m going to defeat the state of Georgia ... nevermind.’”
The blue ribbon panel of leaders from the business community and the public sector, who judged contestant applications, obviously thought differently and Lacy was selected to be a recipient.
And although happy about her win, the humble Lacy said the award is really less about her and more about YCA’s continuous efforts to get at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 18 back on track, which keeps her coming back every day.
“This is one of those jobs that you really do have instant gratification because in 22 weeks, you go from a kid who can’t manage to find his waistline to a kid that will yes ma’am, no ma’am, automatically shine their boots, make their beds and do what their supposed to,” Lacy said. “These boys make it worth doing this job. This is what I love to do and that’s why I’m still here.”
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