Celebrating 35 years of service of Deb West

by Mar 31, 2023COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments

Special to the One Feather

On Thursday, March 30, it was business as usual at the Cherokee Senior Citizens program. Clients began arriving as early as 10 a.m. for activities and lunch. On that day, like every day, announcements began around 11:15 a.m. But Thursday was a little different. Unbeknownst to the staff who were asked to gather in the dining room, a special announcement was being made.

Deb West, right, Cherokee Senior Citizens Program manager, announced her retirement on Thursday, March 30. Her last day will be Friday, April 21. She is shown with Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley. (Photo courtesy of Gabriella Thompson, New Kituwah Academy electronic media coordinator)

“We reach milestones in our lives and today I am announcing my retirement”, began Deb West, manager of the Senior Citizens Program. “I thank you guys for everything. You’ve made my life wonderful. It has been such an honor to serve you. Many, many times I have thanked you (all) for coming to our programs and participating in everything that we do. I hope I did you justice. I did my very best and you were always my priority. You were always the staff’s priority.”

West, who was emotional during her announcement acknowledged the hard work of her staff, thanked her supervisor, Director Renissa McLaughlin, and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley who were both present for the announcement. West spoke to the origins of the program, being organizationally located in the Education Division. “My heart is broken, yet I’m happy because it’s my time,“ West added with a smile and some tears.

Vice Chief Ensley served on the interview panel that selected West for her position 27 years ago. He added, “It’s been a joy to work with Deb over the years. As seniors, you have seen the benefit of having Deb here. There’s not a more passionate employee than Deb. Thank you so much.”

Director McLaughlin addressed the congregate, ensuring them and the staff that their interests and needs would be met with a suitable replacement, although West’s shoes would be hard to fill. West and Director McLaughlin have worked together in different capacities for 27 years. West has worked for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for a total of 35 years.

A celebration will be announced for the latter part of April. West’s last day is scheduled for Friday, April 21.