Every year, in addition to helping to manage the day-to-day activities of the children and youth entrusted to the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC), the organization's employees help them as they experience special milestones in life.
This year, one of those employees experienced a pretty special milestone of her own.
CYDC Employee Andrea Recoma cuts into her cake during her 30-year anniversary celebrationAndrea Recoma is a 30-year employee of CYDC. She started working at CYDC in 1981 shortly after the organization became an independent nonprofit. Andrea has spent her full tenure at the same group home on CYDC's North Charleston campus.
Her position as a residential counselor at the group home is an important one that finds her spending time with the youth in CYDC's care as they prepare to begin their days. This may well be the most significant part of the day for the children, as it sets the tone for what happens throughout the rest of the day. Andrea's presence at that time, coupled with the stability her tenure provides, is a welcome comfort to this group of 8 to 12 teen boys, many of whom come to us from home environments that were unsafe and not stable.
Andrea's supervisor, Lew Rogers, Senior Residential Manager at CYDC, spoke of her involvement at the home at this critical part of the day.
"She gets them up, gets them ready for school. She gets their breakfast for them. [I know] they appreciate her consistency." Lew went on to say that the boys respond well to Andrea, adding that "they look forward to the time" with her.
In an industry where turnover is high because of the stress of the positions, Andrea's anniversary is indeed worthy of recognition.
"Thirty years in this business is one thing. Thirty years at one facility is unbelievable. It just doesn't happen in this field," Lew said after explaining that turnover for similar positions is typically 3 to 5 years. The position is challenging because, "These guys are on the front lines, day in and day out."
Andrea's dedication to the boys in her care hasn't gone unnoticed by the staff at CYDC, who wanted to celebrate her commitment to the organization. The team here threw a surprise celebration in Andrea's honor to express their gratitude for her loyalty.
We felt like we needed to honor that kind of commitment and dedication. She's very dedicated to the kids, said Rogers.
Lew said Andrea is a model employee who is reliable and doesn't complain.
"She's a very trustworthy person, and you just appreciate that in this business."
According to Lew, Andrea was shocked when she came in on a recent day off to find a surprise celebration in her honor, adding that "She was not expecting anything like that."
CYDC had some help from Jason Lewis and Scott Cloud, the manager and owner, respectively, of The Barbecue Joint in old North Charleston and the Knightsville area Publix in making Andrea's anniversary celebration a success.
"On behalf of the hundreds of young men whom Andrea has helped to raise over the last 30 years, we are grateful for her personal commitment to them and to CYDC," said Barbara Kelley Duncan, CEO of Carolina Youth Development Center.