Employees drive thru awards ceremony

Keeping it Wheel: Orange County Honors Employees at Curbside Ceremonies during COVID-19

Public Health & Safety

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of innovation—and that’s exactly what Orange County’s Human Resources has had to do to honor employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The County is hosting curbside service award ceremonies in the parking lot of its Internal Operations Center, by combining social distancing guidelines while recognizing employees for outstanding service and dedication. So far, the County has hosted four curbside ceremonies honoring 68 employees.

“Employees who have been with the County for 20 or more years are reaching milestones in their careers,” said Laura Lord-Blackwell, APR, communications specialist in the Human Resources Division. “We used to conduct employee service award ceremonies during Board of County Commissioner meetings, but this is an innovative way to recognize them while maintaining social distancing guidelines.”

The curbside ceremonies are designed like a parade, during which honorees drive through the festive parking lot, which is lined on one side with a row of tents and the other with guests. The tents are manned by Mayor Jerry L. Demings, various County Commissioners and County leaders, who each hand the employees a gift and offer up congratulations for their service and accomplishments. At the Mayor’s tent, honorees receive their service plaque from the Mayor and take a professional photo with him as a keepsake.

“As we go through this pandemic, we still have to come in, do our jobs and take care of the residents of Orange County, and I want our employees to know we truly do honor them and appreciate the work they do every day as essential public servants,” said Mayor Demings. “We truly appreciate the job they do on behalf of all Orange County.”

Honorees are encouraged to decorate their cars as they drive through this “gauntlet of appreciation,” which includes family, friends and coworkers cheering and holding signs as they drive by. It’s a fun, safe, leisurely drive for honorees — the only time they get out of their cars is to receive their awards.

“I’m delighted we have an opportunity to recognize the outstanding men and women of Orange County Government,” said Byron Brooks, Orange County Administrator. “This is one small way to make certain folks know that important milestones aren’t forgotten.”

Sonya Hill, Division Manager and Head Start Director, was delighted by the ceremony. “The Mayor has encouraged innovation since he took office, and the curbside ceremony was definitely innovative. This is my second time receiving a service award, and I must say I enjoyed the drive-thru celebration a bit more. It felt good being recognized for what I do.”

The next ceremony will take place on February 10, 2021 from 9 to 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to come out and celebrate. For more information, contact Laura-Lord Blackwell at 407-836-2935 or Laura.Lord@ocfl.net.

Photo cutline: Orange County employees celebrate during the Curbside Employee Awards.

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