With Social Work Week (March 13-19, 2016) fast approaching, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is honouring social workers throughout the province for going above and beyond the call of duty to make a real difference for B.C. families.
One of these special social workers was Brendan Flynn. As a child protection social worker for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Brendan made sure that the children and youth who came through the Kelowna office knew they had a voice and a history. Brendan often said, “If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.”
“Brendan believed that whether it was through a life book or a wisdom video, every child deserved to have a story, and to own their individual story,” said Barry Fulton, one of Brendan’s colleagues. “He helped give a voice to kids in care, and to help them believe in themselves and in their value as people.”
He did this outside of the office as well. Brendan was actively involved in Scouts Canada with his own sons, Adam and Alec, and he continued to volunteer as group commissioner and registrar long after his boys were grown.
“There are a lot of fun things in scouting, like winter camping, snowshoeing and rappelling,” said Peter Bouchard, group commissioner for the 1st Okanagan Mission Scout Group, “But Brendan wasn’t just there for the fun. He had two full-time volunteer positions with the Scouts on top of his paid career, and a lot of that involved reams of paperwork and administration. He did it willingly because it was all work that had to get done so the beaver, cub, scout and venturer sections of our group could go do the fun stuff.”
At work and as a volunteer, Brendan played a key role in making the community safer. He led a team of ministry social workers and passed along all the wisdom and experience he had accrued from 38 years in the field. He trained Scout volunteers and taught them model volunteer behaviour, including how to avoid verbal abuse – something he said was far too common, and something he saw far too often in his child protection work. It was all part of who he was. He expected excellence from himself and others, and he did whatever he could to bring out their best.
“He loved bringing kids to winter camp and seeing them test their limits. Kids would go from not being able to pack their gear or set up their tents properly to becoming pros at it,” said Bouchard. “You could really see the kids starting to believe in their abilities and trusting their strengths – and that made Brendan really proud.”
On Feb. 27, Brendan’s life ended suddenly, but his legacy will live on in the community and in the hearts of everyone who knew him. He believed that everyone was important and everyone mattered.
“Although he was always the consummate professional, Brendan had a true Irish spirit, and often had a mischievous glint in his eye and a funny story to tell,” said Fulton. “Staff at the Kelowna office will wear shamrocks to his service on March 10 to honour him and vow to keep his spirit – and his legacy – alive.”
It is a fitting tribute to an iconic, Irish imp of a man – as he is fondly described – but not the final chapter in Brendan’s life book. His story is found in each and every troubled and vulnerable youth and family he touched, and in the colleagues he mentored through humour and humility. It’s a story that lives on in each of them.
Social Work Week is an opportunity to honour outstanding social workers throughout the province, and to thank those who make it their life’s work to truly make a difference in many British Columbians’ lives. To read the proclamation, please visit: http://goo.gl/C0CRZM