DHS On The Go: 2019 Welfare Advocates Conference


40th Annual Welfare Advocates Conference

On Monday, the Welfare Advocates convened for their landmark 40th anniversary conference in Annapolis, and we’re proud to note that DHS was among the conference sponsors, along with Catholic Charities of Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland.

The annual event draws together several hundred welfare advocates, comprised of community-based organizations, community partners, and a strong showing of DHS and local DSS employees. This year’s celebratory theme was “40 Years and Forward: A Foundation for the Future of Welfare Advocacy” — a call to recognize the good work accomplished so far within the realm of welfare reform, while at the same time affirming the need to expand on those achievements.

Participants had a variety of eight workshops/presentations to pick from (all with Q & A sessions built in), and DHS was pleased to facilitate two of them.

The Family Investment Administration team led a morning session titled “Past. Present. Future.: What’s Next for the Family Investment Administration?”La Sherra AyalaAugustin NtabaganyimanaCarrie Durham, and Lauren Molineaux skillfully detailed the following:  new initiatives to enhance the quality of life for low-income Marylanders, economic empowerment through SNAP Employment and Training, and improving customer experience through modern technology (with an emphasis on Eligibility & Enrollment/MD THINK).

And then in the afternoon, the Constituent Services team rolled out their workshop, titled “Evolve. Enrich. Empower.: The Educated Consumer Is The Best-Served Customer.” Connie TolbertLynn Bowens, and Cameron Miles relayed that serving the most vulnerable is truly a matter of the head and heart. Some of the speakers recounted how their empathy is rooted in their own past when they too had been dependent on social services and how to this day those experiences inform and guide how they carry out their service now. Of importance too, they noted, was the emphasis on being a well-rounded servant so that the customer is fully aware, equipped, and educated in terms of all the services available to them.

This year’s keynote speaker was Erricka Bridgeford, co-founder and co-organizer of Baltimore Ceasefire 365. She spoke of her disability (born without a right hand), growing up in poverty amidst family plagued by gun violence, and ultimately her ongoing community activism designed to promote peace in Baltimore’s more troubled neighborhoods. Despite the serious subject matter, Erricka brought an irrepressible joie de vivre to the proceedings which elicited laughter, tears of happiness, and shout-outs & nods of affirmation.

This 40th Welfare Advocates Conference provided an uplifting breeze beneath the sails of everyone who is passionately determined to keep elevating the most vulnerable. We are proud to have co-sponsored and presented at such a unifying event.

Filed in: DHS News, Employee News, Events

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