Lindsarae Klaes, administrative assistant in the Early Head Start program of the Child & Family Research Center, has been named November's Employee of the Month by the Staff Employees Council.
Klaes, who recently received her bachelor's degree in Social Work, is considered "one of our most valuable employees," according to Jennifer Thornton, enrollment and reporting coordinator for Early Head Start.
"In the past year our organization has gone through many changes," Thornton wrote in her nomination letter. "Longtime staff have retired or relocated and throughout this challenging time Lindsey was there ready, willing and able to take on more than her typical job duties. She has recently become the first person families come into contact with when they begin the enrollment process.
"She represents us well with kindness and competency. To qualify for our program, families must meet very specific criteria, including living at or below the federal poverty guidelines. (Klaes') kindness and compassion is the reason that she started the "Giving Tree' program which helps the EHS families during the holiday season."
Thornton explained that program used to have donors who would adopt many children each holiday. With the economic downturn, however, new approaches needed to be implemented.
Enter Klaes, who has played an instrumental role.
"Each year (Klaes) sends flyers, pairs up children and arranges pick-up and delivery," Thornton wrote. "This past year alone Lindsey adopted out 200 EHS children and their siblings and made their holiday just a little bit brighter. This is the kind of person Lindsey is."
Thornton added that while Klaes finished her degree, often carrying a load of 12 to 15 credits per semester, she continued to work fulltime.
"You wouldn't know by her work performance that she was carrying such a heavy load," Thornton said. "The ability to do both so successfully is something that I have always admired in her."
Of her work, Klaes said, "I really enjoy building relationships with the children, their parents, and staff. I feel really connected to the program and its clients, and that makes it feel as though we are really making a difference in the lives of the families we serve."