GUIMARAS – Everywhere you go, you always see her presence around. She makes herself available most of the time and represents herself as a voice of the people and the Department.
She is Elena G. Salazar, currently the Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Team Head of Guimaras Province.
Seeing her with spotted white hair reminds us of her wisdom, compassion, and great dedication as a social worker. She has spent 31 years in community service in improving the lives of poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged people by helping them bring about change.
Elena has been touching the lives of so many individuals with her motherly instinct and holistic approach. In dealing with clients, she treats everyone like a family member.
Elena is the regional winner for the Best Community-based Social Worker in the 2020 DSWD Praise Individual Award. She is also one of the national finalists. The announcement of winners will be on January 29, 2021.
This prestigious award is given to a DSWD social worker who is able to provide “maagap at may malasakit na serbisyo” to the Agency’s service users, such as but not limited to the assessment of service user’s needs, development of a plan to improve service user’s well-being, research and refer service users to community resources and other government agencies, and evaluation of the services provided to ensure that they are effective; thereby, significantly contributing to the achievement of the organizational outcomes of the Office/Bureau/Service and DSWD.
In fact, her kindness by offering a home to a former Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) made a difference in the life of this young man who was charged with murder.
As the parents of the child were not able to appear in court, Elena took the responsibility of being the foster parent of this CICL after being released from the care of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) for two years. When the former CICL had to look for a job after graduation, he had a hard time securing a police clearance. Elena had to vouch for him and assist him in processing his requirements, which later led to his employment.
The former CICL now serves the Filipino people as he is now in military service. He is indebted and thankful for the guidance of Elena, who has raised him and gave him a chance to make a change in society.
“I have no fear of fostering him because my family welcomed him as a family member and as their Kuya. I believed when you teach and guide the child and to feel him the belongingness, everything will change into better,” she said.
Another instance is upon knowing that a mother whose husband was in jail wanted to give up her child for adoption. Elena being the case manager extended counseling to the family even during the weekend.
As a mother, Elena relates how does it feel having nothing on the table, she personally assisted and referred the wife for financial assistance, regular health check-up, as well as the provision of livelihood support until the mother was employed as a food server. Through Elena’s effort, the adoption was legalized and the family was uplifted from being “isang kahig, isang tuka” and the three remaining children were provided well for their education and health.
A poor family also from Guimaras Island sent a complaint and asked for livelihood through the 8888 hotline center. Elena called for a case conference with the family, the concerned program focal person, as well as a representative from the Local Government Unit (LGU). Through Elena’s initiative, the family was given assistance in various forms – medical assistance to family members in need, educational assistance for the children, and livelihood assistance as well.
Elena also served as the voice of the people in behalf of the survivors and families of casualties during the Iloilo -Guimaras Tragedy, when two pumpboats capsized at the Guimaras strait leaving 31 passengers dead.
She raised the issues and concerns of her fellow Guimarasnons which led to the filing of charges against responsible personnel. All survivors and families of casualties were given intervention, stress debriefing, financial and medical assistance. Other stranded boat crew both in two provinces were also given family food packs and assistance.
Elena also advocates for backyard farming to clients and beneficiaries. She grabbed the opportunity in sharing these ideas during her speaking engagements and regular meetings with clients and staff. She set herself as an example by showing her working hands. Elena said her hands are not the hands of employed staff but of a farmer since after her duty and weekends, she still manages to supervise their livestock farming, and other agriculture products.
“If you are industrious enough, you will never be hungry. Even you have more money but this will just vanish if you will never know how to manage it. Farming is a good source of food and additional income for the family,” she said.
Elena’s leadership, good working relationship, and exemplary performances have gained support and stronger partnership with various sectors and partners particularly the LGU which expand linkages and networking. Her voice and command particularly in practicing 3Cs (Communicate, Coordinate, and Collaborate) influenced her to deal with many things that make more jobs, transactions, appeals, and partnership easier. This tool made successful in the implementation of various programs and services of the agency.
Elena’s skill in resource generation is remarkable as the agency was able to save around PHP 400,000.00 in renovating the SWAD Office after sourcing out the fund from the Guimaras Provincial Government for the expenses of installation of windows, construction of restrooms and lavatory of both staff and clients.
Being a responsive manager, she was able to implement innovations in the office for the welfare of the staff and client. Further, the staff assigned in the office also recognized and motivates through nominations to PRAISE. She encourages open communication with her staff through the conduct of the regular meeting or a special meeting in case of urgent concerns, to address the current pressing issues and concerns. Through her leadership, the Municipal Action Team (MAT) of Sibunag, Guimaras was awarded the Best Convergence Action Team during the 2018 DSWD PRAISE Awards. This was held on March 29, 2019, at Landbank Plaza, Malate, Manila.
Elena’s expertise is also into values formation as she performs her services as Social Worker Officer II. She provides technical assistance to the Agency’s partners with regards to the various pro-poor programs such as the Sustainable Livelihood Program, Kalahi-CIDSS, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Supplementary Feeding Program, Social Pension Program, Aid to Individual in Crisis Situation (AICS), and Disaster Response. She also served as resource persons in different programs of the Agency as well as to other sectors.
Her different training attended also contributed to who and where she is right now. The different positions she is currently handling in the associations were the result of the trust, love, and confidence she gained from her co-workers because of her perseverance, and hard work.
Elena is not only well-versed and knowledgeable on these programs, but she is able to deliver with utmost dedication, upholding the mission and vision of the Agency and embody the values of delivering Maagap na Serbisyo and compassionate service, free from any form of corruption, and fair and just treatment of people in the community./dswd6