News Details

CareerSource Okaloosa Walton Staff Named Hurricane Michael Heroes



Date: 2019/06/05

Fort Walton Beach – The CareerSource Okaloosa Walton board was thanked today as staff were recognized as Hurricane Michael Heroes by CareerSource Gulf Coast.


CareerSource Gulf Coast Executive Director Kim Bodine expressed appreciation for the support her region received in the weeks following Hurricane Michael. She concluded with a presentation of awards to CareerSource Okaloosa Walton staff members who went above and beyond in their efforts. Entitled “Hurricane Michael Hero”, the awards presented included a quote by the late Maya Angelou that read “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people”. 


“These awards are just a small token for the post-disaster response from CareerSource Okaloosa Walton workforce partners,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director for CareerSource Gulf Coast. “These individuals left their families, air-conditioned homes and the amenities with which we are accustomed. They came into a hurricane-devastated area with no electricity and little cell phone service. They worked out of both a mobile unit powered by generators and the front of our hot/humid, moldy, flooded Job Center to help us serve our citizens. Words really are not enough to express the gratitude we have for their support after this disaster.” 


Back on October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle, destroying or damaging much along its path.


For the staff at CareerSource Gulf Coast, the destruction caused issues that were personal as well as professional. Homes, vehicles and lives were wrecked. Communication was limited, and staff was displaced. There was also grave concern about how the region would serve its community when electricity, internet access and technology was unavailable.


CareerSource Gulf Coast’s 18,000-square-foot job center was also severely damaged, forcing the center to relocate to a temporary office at CC Washington Academy in Panama City.


CareerSource Okaloosa Walton Executive Director Michele Burns contacted Bodine before and after the hurricane asking what resources were needed and seeing that those resources were made available.


=  Over a period of six weeks, CareerSource Okaloosa Walton provided seven staff members – Terry Cowan, Lashunda Thomas, Mary Travis, Valerie McLaughlin, Randy Hunter, Rickelle Giles and Babette Southard – who aided residents with Disaster Unemployment Assistance applications. 


=  CareerSource Okaloosa Walton also provided a fully-functional mobile unit equipped with computers and internet access.   


=  Through their support, CareerSource Gulf Coast was able to assist more than 10,000 individuals apply for Emergency Disaster Unemployment Assistance.




CareerSource Gulf Coast provides workforce solutions to career seekers and employers in Bay, Gulf and Franklin Counties, at no cost. We connect area employers with qualified, skilled talent, and provide career seekers the resources they need for career development. To learn more about our services, visit