Mitchell finds social work rewarding

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Staff Writer

Many students graduate from college without having even the slightest idea of what they want to do with their lives.

Florence Mitchell was not among that group.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

She knew from the minute she entered college what path she wanted to take and she never strayed from it.

There was no one defining moment when Mitchell thought, "Hey, I want to go into social work." It was a realization that came through her early experiences and her association with those in need.

As a child, Mitchell was captivated by older people and she knew she wanted her life’s work to somehow involve them.

"I grew up not really knowing my grandparents," she said. "One set of grandparents lived in New York and the other in Texas, but I had a lot of surrogate grandparents because my parents were ministers in the Salvation Army for 40 years."

Because Mitchell had the opportunity to be influenced and nurtured by so many "grandparents," she developed a deep affection and great admiration for the aging population.

"There is so much wisdom and so much beauty in these people," she said. "I love being with them and doing things for them. That is one of the best things about social work."

In 18 years in social work, Mitchell has come to the place she considers the pinnacle of her career.

She was recently appointed director of the Pike County Department of Human Resources and she was honored Thursday with a reception at the department office on South Three Notch Street.

"I am excited to be in Troy and to have this wonderful opportunity," Mitchell said. "This is exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing."

Mitchell has worked as a social worker, a welfare supervisor, a consultant in the state office and program supervisor for Jefferson County.

"I was interested in pursuing a leadership position with the state and I heard about the opening in Troy," she said. "I interviewed, and when I hadn’t heard in several months, I thought they must have decided to wait to fill the position or made another selection. When they called me, I was very excited and happy."

Mitchell assumed the position as director of the Pike County Department of Human Resources July 30 and she said Troy and the department already feel like home.

"The office staff welcomed me graciously and accepted me as one of them," she said. "Everyone I have met here in Troy has been friendly and made me feel welcome. I am looking forward to being living in Troy and working here. This is where I believe I am supposed to be."

Assuming a role of leadership in the state is a challenge that Mitchell welcomes.

"I’ve always loved a challenge," she said. "I raised my two daughters as a single mom and that was probably my biggest challenge in life. Now, I’m raising my 2-year-old granddaughter, Alexis, and that is a challenge and a wonderful opportunity. She is a bright, active little person."

With her career and her commitment to little Alexis, Mitchell has a rather busy schedule, but she does find time to answer the call of the sea.

"I do love the water," she said, laughing. "I like being near the water, especially the beach and I try to find time to find the water."

Troy rather close proximity to the Gulf Coast was the icing on the cake for Mitchell, who moved south from Hueytown. So, when everything was packaged, she knew Troy

was the right place and now is the right time.

She has never looked back on her choice of careers and there are no regrets.

"One time I did think about being a missionary, but only for a short time," Mitchell said. "But, I believe you can be a missionary wherever you are. I have a mission here and I only expect things to get better."