I had the honor of celebrating my mom’s second and final retirement on Saturday, January 27, 2024. second and final retirement with her and our family and friends. It was a special occasion that marked the end of her 40-year career as a social worker and a mental health trainer. She started her journey as a young single mom who pursued an Associates Degree in Auto Mechanics at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC). She had me on February 20, 1978, when she was still a student. She told me that becoming a mother motivated her to aim higher and overcome the challenges that life threw at her. She wanted to give me a better life than the one she had growing up in poverty with her five siblings. She didn't let the absence of my dad, who chose not to be involved in raising me, stop her from achieving her goals.
She went on to earn her Bachelors of Science degree in Social Work (BSW) from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T SU) in 1982 and her Masters of Science degree in Social Work from UNC in 1983. She did all of this while working two to three jobs and taking care of me. I was there to witness each of her milestones, even though I was not always excited about it. I remember being dragged to both of her graduations, wearing a tie and short shorts that I hated. I just wanted to stay home and watch cartoons.
The first job that I can remember was in the Starmount Country Club Area, where my mom worked as a live-in home healthcare aid for an elderly woman. This meant that I got to experience the country club life at a very early age. In a way, she had already succeeded in giving me a better life than hers as a child, but she did not settle for that. She obtained her license as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and used it to advance her career. She became the Director of Social Work at Youth Focus, a non-profit organization that provides services to at-risk youth and families. She then moved to Guilford County Department of Social Services (GCDSS), where she served in various roles, such as Child Protective Investigator, Quality Assurance Consultant, and Child Protective Services Supervisor. One of her proudest achievements was implementing a new system that improved the efficiency and effectiveness of child welfare services in the county and winning the award for Social Worker of the Year.
My mom retired for the first time in or around the Summer of 2014. She enjoyed a life of doing just nothing but the bug of making an impact was still in her so she went back to work after one year off as a Mental Health Trainer and Consultant at Senior Resources of Guilford (SRG). There she was able to follow the footsteps of my grandma, Beulah M Moone’s in completing her career both at GCDSS but also SRG. My wife and I decided to celebrate her 40 year journey by honoring her with a retirement dinner in the same area that her career started. Friends, family and former classmates and coworkers were all in attendance to commemorate the special occasion. I was called on to deliver an impromptu speech and pray over the meal. Those of you that know me, know that this was uncomfortable for me considering that I struggle with anxiety. That aside, I rose to the occasion and flawlessly delivered an engaging speech that reflected on her career. I used many of the tools and techniques that we use within Toastmasters which include voice inflection, embracing the pause, and engaging your audience through humor. My mom said that I embarrassed her but in a good way as I laughed on. She asked how did I remember all of those details about her life and career and I responded, “Because I was there.” My Uncle Wesley followed that up in saying to my mom and everyone at the table, “Wanda you had a hell of a career and you did a damn good job at raising him. Listen, my girls couldn’t have gotten up here and did what he just did much less remember what I’ve done in my career.”
Also, I would like to congratulate my mom on a job well done. Lastly, I would like to thank Ben’s Boyz for hosting and catering our dinner. Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible.