Public Service Recognition Week celebrates city, county, state and federal government employees and the important jobs they do. Since Congress authorized it in 1985, PSRW has honored public servants during the first week of each May.
But this year was different: As May neared, COVID-19 cases were climbing and would inevitably interfere with PSRW. Organizers with HR Communications needed a new approach to the celebration. In-person ceremonies and large events were postponed, and in some cases canceled. Still, it was important to find a way to celebrate public service.
What follows are familiar events with a twist, revamped on the fly and incorporated a mix of online participation, social distancing, and other strategies to make the 2020 PSRW not only possible but a success story in the midst of the pandemic.
PSRW Poster Contest
The PSRW poster contest adapted an online submission form and extended deadline. That resulted in an increased number of submissions. Young relatives of city employees illustrated themselves working for the city as veterinarians, firefighters, police officers, public health investigators and more. The winning submissions revealed a wide range of creativity and talent while promoting careers in public service. The winners each received a prize packet, and their posters were framed and ready to hang in a place of honor.
2020 PSRW Poster Contest winners:
- First Place – Sadie Keys, relative of Shelly Keys, HFD
- Second Place – Peyton Barker, relative of Shannon Barker, HPD
- Third Place – Marshal Adhikari, relative of Samjhana Shyestha, HPW
- First Place – Kavya Nepal, relative of Vishnu P. Nepal, HHD
- Second Place – Prayan M. Malla, relative of Rajesh Malla, HPW
- Third Place – Isabel Joshy, relative of Joshy Joseph, HPW
- First Place – Jayden Onyekuely, relative of Nichole Robinson, HR
- Second Place – Yaretzi Morales, relative of Benito Morales, HCD
- Third Place – Michael Anthony Fowls III, relative of Tanyea Fowls, HPD
- First Place – Ofely Morales, relative of Benito Morales, HCD
- Second Place – Isabella Howard, relative of Mariluz Arthur, HPW
- Third Place – Alisa Hammond, relative of Jamie Jackson, HPD
- First Place – Iliana Perez, relative of Jessica Frausto, ARA
- Second Place – Gibson Marrion, relative of Elise Marrion, PD
- Third Place – Minh Triet Ethan Khong, relative of Linh Kenny Khong, HAS
- First Place – Alora Robinson, relative of Nichole Robinson, HR
- Second Place – Alayna Morales, relative of Lucha Morales, HR
- Third Place – Minhvan Vincent Khong, relative of Linh Kenny Khong, HAS
PSRW Essay Contest
This citywide contest invited students from the metro area to write essays about a public service job of their choosing. The five winners received scholarships funded by Cigna. The annual ceremony took place as a socially distanced drive-though awards presentation.
2020 PSRW Essay Contest Winners:
First Place: $2,000 scholarship
- Michelle Tran
- Tomball Memorial High School
- Essay: “Detection and Disinfection”
Second Place: $1,200 scholarship
- Macy Huang
- Carnegie Vanguard High School
- Essay: “Finding Room to Grow: Optimizing Houston’s Land Usage”
Third Place: $800 scholarship
- Mackenzie Joe
- St. Agnes Academy
- Essay: “Houston’s Health”
Honorable Mention: $500 scholarship
- Megha Bhatia
- Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
- Essay: “A Spongier and Greener Houston”
Honorable Mention: $500 scholarship
- Samiha Zaman
- Bellaire High School
- Essay: “Implementing Garden Programs in Houston’s Urban Space”
This is the city’s commendation of good works by employees. The annual event encourages departments to nominate outstanding employees who also volunteer in their communities. Due to COVID-19, the deadline was extended for nominations and the City Council recognition is postponed.
2020 Bravo Award winners:
- Roger Brookes, Houston Public Works
- Lynn Henson, Planning Department
- Rob Howelton, Legal Department
- Jeremy Lahar, Houston Police Department
- Norma Meadows, Office of Business Opportunity
- Sharon Reese, Houston Health Department
Mayor’s Service Awards
The Mayor’s Service Awards honors employees with more than 30 years of service. The annual event demonstrates the mayor’s appreciation for these longtime employees’ dedication to public service. Honorees and their guest are treated to a luncheon and called on stage for a photo with the Mayor to commemorate their service.
The 2020 Mayor’s Service Awards was scheduled for March, then postponed to June and then November. Finally, in light of the rising COVID-19 threat, a final decision was made to hold it in in early 2021 instead, combining it with a celebration for the 2021 honorees.
The annual tournament is postponed to early December 2020. Look for information to be released in the coming months.