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Paducah social worker wins top cabinet award; Sandra Lynn is 35-year veteran of state government

Press Release Date:  May 13, 2005
Contact:  Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 13, 2005) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has given a 35-year veteran of state government the top honor it awards its exemplary social workers.

Sandra Lynn of Paducah has been named the Paul T. Grannis Award winner. She will receive the award at a Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) management meeting on Wednesday, May 18, in Louisville. The presentation will be at 1:45 p.m. EDT at the Executive West Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane.

The award honors the memory of Paul Grannis, a Fleming County family services worker who was killed on May 8, 1987, during a child protection investigation. Grannis received the award posthumously that year.

Lynn supervises a team of eight treatment staff in the family services office of McCracken County’s Division of Protection and Permanency. She and her staff help families that may be at high risk of having their children removed because of abuse or neglect.

Representing the cabinet’s Purchase Service Region, she was among 14 nominees. All nominees will be honored at the meeting.

Lynn said she is happily “overwhelmed” to receive the award from her peers and sees it as a good opportunity to tell people what social work is really like.

“Social workers are very committed,” she said. “The decisions that social workers have to make are almost never black and white – there is a lot of gray. It can be challenging and sometimes difficult to make those choices. We must make good decisions in order to protect the children and the families in this state.”

Lynn graduated from Murray State University with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology. She began her career in the former Department of Economic Security in the Division of Public Assistance in 1967. She took time off when each of her two children was born. She is a licensed social worker and was promoted to supervisor in 1982.

Her nomination, submitted by a co-worker, reads in part that “Her life and accomplishments reveal that she has defined who she is by what she does. She has touched the lives of many people through the years and has had a great impact on all who have had the privilege to know her and work with her.”

Cabinet Secretary James W. Holsinger, Jr., M.D., said he is proud that someone with Lynn’s experience is representing the cabinet.

“I congratulate Sandra not only on receiving the Paul T. Grannis award, but also for her more than three decades as a social worker in Western Kentucky,” he said.
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“Her tenure of quality service is practically unmatched in the cabinet and all of state government,” Holsinger said. “On behalf of all the Kentuckians she has helped, I thank Sandra for an exemplary job and a wonderful example.”

DCBS Commissioner Mike Robinson said of Lynn, “Sandra has made a lot of tough decisions in the past three decades. Her experience has helped not only the families and children who are her customers, but also her co-workers, who are still learning from her example of compassionate service.”

Lynn said it can be hard getting through to families who are in danger of losing their children because of persistent setbacks.

“A lot of families are overwhelmed with the problems they have,” she said. “They don’t realize that other families have similar problems.  

“Once children come into temporary state care, some families realize they have made mistakes and see that they must deal with these issues,” Lynn said. “The agency can’t do that for them. We can develop a case plan with the family, but they will have to make the change on their own. We encourage them to look at their strengths and involve community partners in helping them. In many cases, families are able to make the right decisions for their children.”

The cabinet last awarded the Grannis award in 2000.

“We felt it was important to reinstate this award to helps us remember how vital staff can be in assisting vulnerable families who may be near a breaking point,” Robinson said. “In recognizing the efforts of our top field workers, we also honor Paul and his dedication to service.”

Lynn and her husband, Louis, have been married for 38 years and have a daughter, a son and two grandchildren. Her hobbies include walking, reading and youth and other activities at her church, Spring Bayou Baptist in Kevil. The family also takes weekend trips to the nearby Western Kentucky lakes.

Paul T. Grannis Award Regional Nominees


Melissa Lynn Robinson
Jefferson County
KIPDA Jefferson Service Region

Layne Caldwell
Fayette County
Bluegrass Fayette Service Region

Robert Perry
Johnson County
Big Sandy Service Region

Patrick Helmers
Gallatin County
Northern Kentucky Service Region

Bobbye McClain
Laurel County
Cumberland Valley Service Region

Mary Cook
Warren County
Barren River Service Region

Thomas Steele
Morgan County
Gateway/Buffalo Trace Service Region

Dana Matlock
Christian County
Pennyrile Service Region

Debra Jacob
Daviess County
Green River Service Region

Sherry Rock
Hardin County
Lincoln Trail Service Region

Gara Wilson-Casteel
Greenup County
FIVCO Service Region

Anetha Caldwell
Casey County
Lake Cumberland Service Region

Trish Woods
Shelby County
KIPDA Rural Service Region


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Last Updated 5/13/2005