FLORENCE, S.C. – A Florence man recently was selected as one of four employees of the month by the Department of Social Services.

Reynaldo “Rey” Jimenez is a career counselor with Project HOPE.

“As Gomer Pyle would enthusiastically reply: ‘Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!’ That was my first reaction,” Jimenez said. “Man, oh, Man is Rita Brantley (my supervisor) really sneaky. She knows I don’t seek recognition or accolades. That was my second reaction. My third reaction was I surely respect and appreciate my Project HOPE Team for this nomination/acknowledgement. I know they care about me; I just didn’t know how much.”

Project HOPE is a federally funded Health Profession Opportunity Grant, and in his job, Jimenez plays three roles: transitional specialist, career counselor, and recruiter. In these various roles, he helps connect clients to the program, helps them overcome barriers and continually spreads the news of this program while serving in his other roles.

“I have been fortunate to have program directors and supervisors who have allotted me the freedom and trust to successfully promote Project HOPE’s mission of ‘Building Futures, Creating HOPE, Saving Lives through education,’” Jimenez said. “Maneuvering through the challenges that come about with clients about their education and the positive outcomes they will obtain through Project HOPE is the most rewarding for me. And sometimes just getting those hugs, and ‘thank you’s’ from clients I helped fulfill their quest is what keeps me motivated.”

His nomination said Jimenez genuinely cares about the success of the students, going as far as to provide snacks during the boot camps and bringing vegetables from his garden to give the participants and their families.

“He is passionate about Project HOPE and makes sure clients feel supported throughout their participation in the program,” the nomination said. “He works well with others and will go the extra mile to assist his teammates when needed. … Rey always goes above and beyond, and we are honored to have him on the Economic Services team.”

The other winners were Rebecca Ellwood, placement coordinator with Upstate Foster Family and Licensing Support Unit; Heidi Jeffries, constituent services representative; and Bernard Peter, attorney with Greenville Regional Child Support Office.

Staff selected as part of the Employee of the Month Program are awarded lunch with the state director along with other honorees, a dedicated parking space, a photo and write-up displayed at State Office and a write-up sent to their community newspaper.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services’ Employee of the Month programs recognizes staff members whose work exemplifies the department's core principles: competence, courage and compassion.

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