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Local government agencies that care

With the bad press government agencies tend to generate, it’s encouraging to hear about two agencies, one federally supervised and the other state-administered, that are doing things right — the Farmville office of Social Security and Prince Edward office of the Department of Social Services.

Social Security celebrated its 80th birthday last week, and the Farmville office joined in the celebration.

District Manager Brenda Johns takes pride in her staff of 12 who “treat customers with dignity and respect while providing accurate and timely service.”

That service sometimes goes above and beyond the call of governmental duty.

In one instance the Farmville Social Security office called a local family whose daughter died unexpectedly, leaving the grandparents to care for a 16-year-old granddaughter.

“I never thought to call Social Security,” the grandparent reported. “I was very surprised and grateful when they offered to help.”

“I have a passion for assisting customers in their time of need,” Johns reported in The Herald last week.

Our local Social Services office, state supervised and locally administered, was also in the news last week. The Prince Edward office has been selected to take part in a pilot program to develop a new policy for agencies across the state.

“This pilot program is based on the premise that you can attract more bees with honey than vinegar,” Family Services Specialist Sue Carter said. “Now we’re knocking on the family’s door — someone is concerned about you, can we come in? That’s a much different tone.”

“The state absolutely frowns on us removing a child,” Carter added. “If there is anything we can do to prevent removal, we will do it. Our job is to bring the family back together, not tear them apart.”

Carter is excited about the new policy that will allow her to provide social services with a smile.

Reaching out to the local residents in time of need and providing needed services with a smile — it’s all in a day’s work for the local offices of Social Security and Social Services.

We’re fortunate to have them in our community.