Tidewater Occupational Center celebrates with veteran employee

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Tidewater Occupational Center recently threw a surprise party for one of its own, 30-year veteran Barbara McClenny.

McClenny, celebrating both her birthday and anniversary with TOC last Friday, said she hopes to spend another three decades working at the sheltered workshop.

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&uot;I love the client-employee population that we serve,&uot; said McClenny. &uot;They are very special people; …they are loving and want to please. They try hard to do their best and they never complain.&uot;

McClenny thinks of her 140 coworkers as extended family.

Dale J. Feltes, TOC’s executive director, credited McClenny with having a calming influence among the facility’s 140 employees and 34 staff members.

&uot;Personnel problems, nasty phone calls, any problems… they come to Barbara,&uot; said Feltes. &uot;She handles payroll, the buses and getting clients home.

&uot;She’s got all this and she handles it all. She is remarkable!&uot; he said. &uot;Her 30 years here testify to that fact.&uot;

Brenda Swarn, plant manager, works with McClenny on a daily basis and says she is a job to be around.

&uot;She’s a loving person … like a mother or big sister,&uot; said Swarn. &uot;Anything goes wrong, …she’s the special person who fixes it all. I truly enjoy working with her.&uot;

School Superintendent Dr. Milton R. Liverman, a member of the TOC Board of Directors, said McClenny’s dedication to the center is obvious.

&uot;She exudes a quiet confidence that is calming to situations,&uot; said Liverman. &uot;She’s been here just two years less than the center. In her own quiet way, she’s helped shape the center into the successful place it is today.&uot;

McClenny said she was grateful and surprised by the party. But, she said, she couldn’t take credit for her successful years at TOC.

&uot;It’s the result of the teamwork between the staff and the employees,&uot; she said. &uot;They are very special.&uot;

McClenny, a deacon at Gilfield Baptist Church in Ivor, has been married to Robert B. McClenny for 40 years. The couple has four children – Robert Jr., Bonita, Bermina, and Bianca.

Feltes said modesty and grace precluded McClenny from mentioning her children’s accomplishments.

&uot;She has a daughter with a doctorate and she’s a lieutenant commander in the Navy,&uot; said Feltes. &uot;She has another who is dean of students for Norfolk Public Schools, and one who works for the government that just earned her master’s degree.&uot;