UIC’s Division of Specialized Care for Children announces 2021 Award of Merit winner

Kimberley Firkins
Kimberley Firkins

Kimberley Firkins is the 2021 recipient of the Award of Merit from University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children.

The award recognizes exceptional employees for outstanding dedication and service to Illinois children with special health care needs.

Firkins is a program coordinator assistant for Home Care Region 2. She is based in the Lombard Regional Office.

DSCC is a statewide program that partners with Illinois families and communities to help children and youth with special health care needs connect with services and resources. Our program coordinator assistants work as a team with care coordinators to meet our participant families’ needs.

Firkins is a team player and a constant source of encouragement and support for her participant families and co-workers alike.

Her colleagues say she is friendly, welcoming and gladly offers her creativity, knowledge and skills to assist wherever needed.

She sends her Lombard teammates positive messages and self-care tips weekly to keep everyone motivated and foster a positive work environment. Those messages have helped bridge the “disconnect” of working remotely through the pandemic.

Co-workers say her calm and caring nature puts the families she works with at ease.

“Kimberley’s enthusiasm and passion for serving others are an inspiration to many,” said Thomas Jerkovitz, DSCC executive director. “The past two years have been challenging. Kimberley’s teamwork spirit highlights that the way we are working may be different, but our dedication to each other and our participant families remains strong.”

Firkins has worked at DSCC for 16 years in the Core and Home Care programs.

“I would like to say how fortunate I am to work in an organization that makes such a huge impact to so many people and families, especially over the last almost two years,” Firkins said.

“I hear from families almost every day how important it is for them to hear from their care coordination team not just as their care coordinators or the care coordinators’ assistants but as their friends as well, wanting to know how they’re doing, how things are going, and how they’re handling all of the stressors that are happening right now. It just means so much to me to know that our organization has that place in their family.”

Firkins was an Award of Merit nominee in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020. She said she is both honored and surprised to receive the 2021 award.

“I am so very grateful. It means the world to me, but I don’t do what I do without everyone else. We’re all one team. We all won this,” she said.

DSCC staff nominated a total of six of their colleagues for this year’s Award of Merit. As the winner, Firkins receives an Award of Merit memento, a $2,500 award and recognition from the executive director.

The other 2021 nominees are:

  • Cynthia Booth, home care program hospital liaison, Chicago Home Care Regional Office
  • Becca Hunt, care coordinator, Marion Regional Office
  • Danielle Osburn, claims unit assistant supervisor, Central Administrative Office
  • Tess Rhodes, quality improvement specialist with core quality improvement, Central Administrative Office
  • Marian Walles, care coordinator, Mokena Regional Office.
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