Tulsa's Family and Children's Services is kicked off National Families Week with its annual "Family of the Year" awards Thursday evening. Six area families were honored for their dedication to their own families as well as others. News on Six reporter Glenda Silvey served as mistress of ceremonies.
The celebration also included awards for a children's art contest. Hundreds of Tulsa area students took part. The ceremony also included an honor to one local business for it's family-friendly philosophy.
Glenda Silvey explains what makes the Joe West Company so special. Sylvia Hyde, Joe West Co: "18 years ago, when I had my youngest child, I had to put him in a day care. I cried for three weeks every day at work. I was not very productive." But Sylvia Hyde is glad that things are different for her colleagues at Joe West Insurance Company.
Hyde says her boss, Tim Driskell, encourages new mothers to bring their newborns to work until the babies are ready for daycare. Parents are also allowed to bring their children to work with them if needed. "When there are parent-teacher functions, we're allowed to take off work -- we don't have to make up that time." Driskell says his wife is one of 12 children of two working parents, so he understands the challenges families face. They also raised a child of their own. He says he knows people's family concerns don't end when they arrive at work. "If you recognize that, you let them do their work as part of the workplace."
Driskell says the children don't disrupt the work environment. "You're going to get happier employees and probably retain employees when you have that outlook." Hyde says Driskell even hires employees' teenagers for summer help.â€ You know, he doesn't have to do that; he does that. He contributes to everything that comes down the pike. I tell him 'I don't know how much money, ' he says, 'Well, if I'm going to buy from your child, I'm going to buy from everybody's children."
Driskell says he's shocked, but delighted to win the Family and Children's Services award. "It's neat. I mean, it's a neat thing." Driskell's employees say it's even neater to work for a company which such a rare understanding and compassion for the needs of families.
Hyde says there's very low turnover at the Joe West Company because of its family policies. She says Driskell even arranged a special schedule to accommodate a grandmother with full custody of her grandchild.