OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature’s Human Services Committee recently presented Kathleen Fenlon with a certificate of appreciation for her 35 years of service.
She received a standing ovation from legislators and guests at the March legislature meeting.
Fenlon is retiring from her position as director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
“Kathy started with the county in 1972, 41 years ago, as a councilor in employment training; became a training specialist, vocational councilor and then she took a short recess. And then came back as director of administrative services at DSS,” according to Phil Church, county administrator. “But, we all know her for the role that she is most respected and known for and that is executive director of the Youth Bureau for the past 25 years.”
All of us have recognized her commitment to youth and her dedication to providing services to youth to help them become successful, he added.
She has been a prolific grant writer, and her abilities as a leader and a manager are well known. She has been recognized by the state for her abilities as well.
She has served as the treasurer and executive board member of the State Association of Youth Bureaus (and they honored her for her ‘out of the box thinking’). She has also served as president of the United Way board of directors, member of Integrated Community Planning of Oswego County, Workforce Development Board, Weston Hyde Foundation, Zonta, president and vice president of the Oswego City School District board of education, Oswego County Child Care Council, Child Protection Advisory Council, Take Charge Coalition – and many others.
She has also received several local awards.
“Twenty-three years ago this month, Kathy gave me my first job with the county, hiring me as a part-time researcher in the Youth Bureau,” Church said. “I was a recent college graduate. I was working two other jobs at the time. You never know what life’s going to hand you. Back then, the college student didn’t recognize the opportunity that she gave me. He does now and I personally what to thank her for that.”
During budget meetings the past two years Fenlon told the county administrator, “I don’t know if I’m going to retire yet or not. Maybe this year or maybe the following year,” he recalled.
“We talked about it a little bit. Never really wanted her to go. It always came back to her saying, ‘I can’t imagine not coming to work. I absolutely love what I do,’” Church said. “Kathy, it shows. You became an example of excellence for myself, department heads, legislators and all county employees. You set the bar high and sometime even jumped over that bar.”
“If you worked for the county at any level, any level, if you want to know what the public and legislature’s expectation of job performance is, the positive impact that a public servant can have on the community – look at Kathy Fenlon as an example,” he continued. “I want to thank very much for everything that you’ve done.”
“The most important message that I have learned is how important it is for the community to help raise our young people. The young people need community support and to have opportunities,” Fenlon said.
All kids have strengths, all kids have interests and all kids have skills, she said.
“But, the kids aren’t born with that stamped on their forehead. The community needs to afford them the opportunity to find out what it is that they want to do. They need to try things out. They need the opportunity to learn to work together, to work out differences, to appreciate the differences in other kids,” she explained.
“We all have opportunities to reach out to young people to make a difference in their lives. Some day, those young people need to sit in our seats,” she continued looking at Legislator Terry Wilbur. “Terry participated in many of our programs. And, I’m so proud when I look over and see Terry sitting here. Now he’s like one of my bosses, we kid about that.”
That is why the community needs to support its youth, she pointed out.
“They will sit in our seats one day and do a better job then we do; they will the leaders of our future,” she said.