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HONESDALE (Jan. 10, 2019) – For nearly five decades, Andrea “Andy” Whyte provided the vision, energy, passion and leadership that molded the highly effective, consumer-focused Wayne County Human Services Agency, positively impacting the lives of hundreds of workers and thousands of community members and their families along the way.
Whyte plans to retire at the end of the week, and the Wayne County Commissioners bid her a fond farewell at their meeting Thursday morning.
Dedication & Compassion
The Commissioners issued a Certificate of Recognition, and State Sen. Lisa Baker along with State Reps. Mike Peifer and Jonathan Fritz presented her with citations from the State Senate and House of Representatives, but it was the 30-to-40 colleagues and well-wishers who attended the meeting that seemed to move her the most.
Commissioner Wendell Kay said it was a function of those she helped, not just the Commissioners and the county “but those in desperate need . . . of services or just someone to talk to.” Noting Whyte’s long-term commitment to one organization is very rare, Kay said, “The dedication that takes is something that really speaks to me because not every day is a great day.”
Whyte agreed, but said, “Even on the bad days when you are as down as you can get, the next day something happens and it doesn’t matter.”
Kindness & Dignity
Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith called Whyte’s departure bittersweet, saying, “I always admired your ability to deal with people on every level.” Sen. Baker, who said she attended the presentation as a friend, called Whyte someone she relied on in order “to go back to the state to tell them they’re wrong.”
Whyte said she always sought to treat everyone from Commissioner to consumer with kindness and dignity. “That’s the only thing I think I ever yelled about,” said the usually very soft-spoken Whyte.
With a Master’s in Business Administration, Whyte possesses both the intellect and compassion Commissioner Kay said the Human Services Administrator needs. “I truly believe you were meant to do this job.”
Admitting she never aspired to the position as a youngster, she said, “I believe you come to things where you can use your talents even if you don’t know what they are.”
Leadership & Vision
As Whyte worked to build the Human Services infrastructure in Wayne County by providing more and more services directly, Sen. Baker noted she helped transform the model. “You were a visionary, a role model and a pathfinder, and you did it all with grace, dignity and humility,” the senator said.
Commissioner Joe Adams, who once lived just a few houses away from Whyte, also praised her leadership. “It’s amazing what our county does in HSA (Humans Services Agency) due to your leadership. You lead by example and that example begins with caring for people.”
Whyte spearheaded the creation of the Agency, which includes Children & Youth Services, Area Agency on Aging, Office of Behavioral and Development Programs & Early Intervention, Drug & Alcohol Commission and Transportation, and has been bringing home more and more direct care services since that time.
Whyte said, “I often say, ‘Wayne County works,’ and not just at their desks. We don’t have a lot of resources, like big corporations, so we do it ourselves. We work together. I thought every county worked like that, but they don’t.”
Takes a Village
Whyte said serving the needs of the elderly, the young, those with disabilities, mental health issues, addiction, hunger, homeless, etc. really takes a team. “They don’t see me first. They see you first and I am so proud of you.”
“You talk about leadership,” she said, “but we built it together.”
Whyte chalks up a large part of her success to her blessings and to the support of the long line of County Commissioners and Chief Clerks, executive staff members and others who believed in her, even if she wasn’t so sure herself.
Offering her compliments to colleagues and co-workers, Whyte said, “The taxpayers of Wayne County should know they get a really big bang for their buck.”