Family advocacy manager named social worker of year
March 19, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -Whoever said nice guys always finish last has never met Cole Weeks.
As the Family Advocacy Program manager for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Army Community Service, Weeks has developed quite a glowing reputation around these parts for his "too-good-to-be-true, but-honest-to-goodness-really-is" personality.
Since 2007, Weeks has administered and directed a program responsible for the prevention of domestic violence and child abuse, here and at Fort Shafter. He has not only competently expanded the breadth and scope of FAP, but done so while maintaining an "aw-shucks," good-guy image.
As a result, Weeks was selected as the National Association of Social Workers-Hawaii Chapter's Practitioner of the Year - an honor given to a NASW member who has made significant contributions to social work, and done so while embracing the organization's Code of Ethics.
Admittedly, this year's first-place finisher is still a bit "shocked" over the honor.
"I was not even aware that I was going to be nominated," said Weeks, who will receive his award at the chapter's annual awards ceremony March 29 at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu.
"It was a really good surprise," he said. "I'm very honored to be recognized by my peers."
Arlene McCormack, FAP manager, Installation Management Command-Pacific, nominated Weeks for the award. She praised the former New Parent Support Program manager for bringing "all the right stuff" to the job, which includes leading a team of about 30 staffers, not to mention the numerous Soldiers and family members who fall within USAG-HI.
Above all, she credited Weeks' leadership style, calling him a valuable asset in "building relationships and partnering with the military and the state agencies to maintain a successful and effective program."
"Cole is really good at galvanizing groups of people," McCormack said. "He's also a great role model for dads in our program. For those dads and their families in our program, they have to be OK with a social worker going into their home.
"Cole's personality is effective because he doesn't disrupt the process of gaining a family's trust," she continued. "He's got that ability to connect with people and put them at ease."
While his gift for earning the confidence of others deserves praise, colleagues say so does his knack for inspiring coworkers to constantly give their best.
Colleen Nutter, FAP specialist, said that Weeks places a tremendous amount of faith in his staff, allowing members "to play to their strengths" by involving them in decisions that help shape FAP.
In return, staff members reward Weeks for his belief in their abilities by working doubly hard to cultivate the program.
"He's really perfect for the job," Nutter said. "He's always calm and is always honest. He really believes in the program, and people believe in him. I'd say he's probably the best boss and mentor I've ever had."
Weeks said that his team works best when members are allowed to share ideas and use innate skill sets.
"We have excellent leadership here at the garrison, and they've allowed me a great deal of autonomy," said Weeks, whose responsibilities include serving as chairman of the Military Family Advocacy Coordinating Council, and leading an effort to establish a Wellness Center at Schofield. "I want to make sure that everyone (on the FAP team) is heard and feels involved."