However, Byrd, who describes herself as one who “tries to know what is going on,” was not only shocked she had won the prestigious Beverly Littlefield Award of the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services earlier this month, but that her entire staff had known about it for weeks and had been able to keep it a secret.
Byrd, who has been the Clayton County senior services director for five years and, prior to that, worked as a health and wellness specialist in the aging division of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said she is proud of the award and what it means to Clayton County.
“This award means that Clayton County Senior Services is known throughout the state for the excellent and innovative programs we have developed for our senior adults,” she said.
According to Georgia Department of Human Services officials, this is only the second year the Littlefield Award had been presented. Last year when creation of the award was announced, its initial recipient was the office of aging representative for which the award is named.
The award highlights an individual who is “innovated, dedicated and passionate about healthy living and positive aging, all of which are represented in Byrd,” the award presentation announcement said.
Byrd, who praised her staff for their continued work with Clayton seniors, said her department’s programs and services range from meals on wheels and the medical transportation of seniors for their healthcare needs to senior adult day programs as well as numerous other innovative ways to make sure seniors have the best quality of life available.
Byrd said being honored with the award was a culmination of the programs she implemented, both with the regional commission and Clayton County.
“While with the Atlanta Regional Commission, I started a number of programs which are now being implemented statewide,” she said.
One of her innovative, “thinking outside the box” ideas that has been implemented statewide by the Georgia Department of Human Services has been her Chronic Disease Management Program, which she learned about from a Stanford University study.
Under Byrd’s leadership, the Clayton County Senior Services Department has grown to encompass six senior facilities and more than 125 employees.
Although she works with numerous senior services programs in Clayton, one of the newest, which has seen substantial growth, is that of grandparents raising grandchildren.
“At present, we have more than 172 grandparents who are raising 350 grandchildren,” Byrd said.
“In addition, we have just celebrated the high school graduation of one of those grandchildren involved in the program.”