Here’s to the helping hands
Today the Human Services Network, (HSN), will conduct its annual celebration of the people and organizations who strengthen the fabric of our community each and every day by committing their time and energy to help their neighbors cope with difficulties in their lives.
The 2015 Human Services Awardees range from well-known personalities such as retired Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, selected as the Politician of the Year, to an organization that is not often in the limelight, Northern Nevada HOPES, as the Agency of the Year. Xiomara Rodriguez will also be recognized for her volunteer work as the Board Member of the Year from the Northern Nevada Literacy Council.
Korine Viehweg of the Northern Nevada RAVE Family Foundation will be honored as the Administrator of the Year. The Michael O’Callaghan Humanitarian Award will be given posthumously to Paul M. Laxalt, a leader with Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada at the time of his death. A special recognition award will also be given to the Victim Services Units of local government.
One of the highlights of the annual awards program is the spotlight on the Staff Member of the Year, a person chosen by the membership as especially deserving of recognition in a peer group full of humanitarians. This year’s award will be given to Pam Becker, who has worked at the Children’s Cabinet since 1989. (Full disclosure: I served as the executive director of the Children’s Cabinet from 1987 to 1993.)
The Children’s Cabinet is a private/public partnership focused on filling the gaps in needed services for children and their families. Pam started her career there with two part-time gigs working with teenagers, as a case manager in the Truancy Program and the leader of the Sierra Wilderness Experience and Training (SWEAT) program. She’s served in a variety of positions over the years and currently is employed as the human resources director, in charge of recruitment, hiring, and training of new staff.
For the last 25 years, Pam’s career has evolved along with the Cabinet’s eagerness to try new approaches to complicated issues such as truancy and delinquency, access to affordable, quality child care, and mental health concerns. As the longest-serving Cabinet employee, Pam had the opportunity to apply her unique style to every problem needing a solution. Ask anyone who’s ever worked with her and they’ll tell you about her passionate determination, her booming laughter, and enveloping hugs.
Pam didn’t hesitate when asked which Cabinet program has had the biggest impact on our community, responding with conviction that the Healthy Beginnings Coalition addressing issues of perinatal substance abuse, prevention, intervention and treatment was her biggest success. She noted the importance of collaborating with others to train people on how best to prevent the permanent damage that children can suffer from perinatal substance abuse: “No one can leave one of those trainings and be the same as they were when they started.”
Pam is excited about the newest efforts of the Children’s Cabinet to focus on emerging adults, ages 18 to 26, with delinquent pasts, by assisting them to find meaningful work opportunities and avoiding deeper involvement in the criminal justice system. She knows that a good job prevents a lot of crime.
Mike Pomi, the Cabinet’s executive director, says today’s award is the “culmination of a job well done, every day, for 25 years. Pam comes to work excited and enthusiastic about helping kids and families and is always ready to take on a new challenge.”
For her part, Pam dreams of the day when she arrives at work and the door is locked because every local child and family has what they need. Until then, she plans to continue doing whatever she can to fulfill the Cabinet’s mission of keeping children safe and families together.