Search Veteran, Gwendolyn Bluitt Retires
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Bluitt, who has been a very special and important member of our team since 1985, celebrated her retirement on Friday, August 13th alongside her Search family.
Back when Search was a small school for children with intellectual disabilities, Gwen's sister, Mildred, recruited Gwen to work for us. Originally, Gwen was only planning on staying a short time. That short time has turned into 35 years. In all those years, Gwen has touched many lives, including staff and program members. To Gwen, the most rewarding part of her job is being able to help other people and the joy of making our participants lives rewarding.
Her favorite part of working at Search is the people we serve. They keep her coming back and make her feel needed. Gwen has one piece of advice for people thinking about becoming a Direct Support Professional. She shares, “You need to have a special feeling to do this work. If it's not in your heart, don't do it.”
To celebrate Gwen’s retirement, her fellow members of the Search team shared a few parting thoughts.
Senior Program Manager
I worked with Gwen many, many years ago at our Ravenswood day program site. I remember her classroom was always humming with activity. Everyone was engaged and focused. The classroom was extremely well organized in the Montessori fashion. Gwen always made sure that the individuals in her classroom never needed for anything and she had the best parties! I also remember that Gwen had the best penmanship too!
Visibility Arts Manager
I have worked with Gwen for 21 of her 36 years at Search. Gwen has been a treasure trove of information about the histories of the individuals we serve. She has stories of the individuals’ younger years and knowledge of the changes and growth many of them have gone through. I have observed folks go talk with Gwen as she is someone who has been trustworthy, validating, and an amazing listener. She has been that for the individuals and the staff. Gwen shares many stories and often has humorous anecdotes that end with her giggle. A giggle that is undeniably Gwen.
Lincoln Program Manager
I started my Search career in Gwen's environment. Immediately I could tell she was the matriarch of the frontline Lincoln staff. She always had a calmness to her that was soothing to the individuals we served. Even if someone was having a difficult time (an individual or staff), Gwen never lost her composure. Holidays were her specialty. The environment was always decorated appropriately with colorful table clothes, holiday decorations, matching paper plates, and flowers. I would look forward to those party days because I knew I was going to eat a giant plate of delicious home-cooked food made by Gwen (with maybe a little help from her daughters). Christmas was especially notable as Gwen would create a personalized gift list for every individual based on their interests or needs - art supplies for Eric C., a beautiful scarf for Ella Mae, or an Elvis CD for Gary. Gwen always made sure that individuals took pride in how they dressed and helped them to look and feel their best. Even though everyone from Lincoln has been separated since COVID, Gwen will definitely be missed by all and I hope she enjoys her much deserved retirement.
Recruitment and Staff Development
I’ve worked with Gwen for 15 years. Fun fact, when Gwen started working for Search I was 2 years old!!! She reminds me all the time. Gwen for as long as I’ve known her has always had style. She and previous Lincoln DSP’s who I looked at as the veteran’s always coordinated how they dressed. Gwen let her style trickle into the parties they would throw for the individuals during the holidays. One 4th of July I decided I would just wear regular clothes. I didn’t wear anything that was red white or blue. Gwen pulled me to the side and handed me a blue t-shirt to change into for the spirit of the holiday. Through her love of style, Gwen had a special gift for throwing parties. She was always meticulous about every detail.
When it came to taking pictures I always had to catch her off guard. Her off-guard pictures showed her the best. Such a warm and beautiful smile that made coming to work truly feel like home. I will miss Gwen on our #TeamLincoln!
With Gratitude and Warm Wishes
Gwen Bluitt is a part of Search history. Her dedication to the people supported at Search will be remembered for years to come. On behalf of everyone at Search, I would like to thank Gwen for her incredible service for the past 36 years. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement, Gwen!
You will be missed!