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Retirement Party Honors Employees for Their Remarkable Contributions

A retirement party was organized and hosted by Shinnecock employees to honor Joan Williams, Health Advocate for the Community Health Worker Program, and Josephine Smith, Director of the Shinnecock Cultural Resources Department. Held at the Community Center on December 4, 2023, the event brought together employees, guests, and community members to celebrate the remarkable contributions of these two women.

During the party, attendees expressed their gratitude and admiration through heartfelt quotes. Chairman Bryan Polite, appreciating their mentorship, stated, "You guys have not only mentored people like myself, but a whole generation of people in my age group." Sunsqua Linda Franklin, acknowledging their impact on the community, said, "You guys are truly an inspiration to everybody who wants to work for this nation."

The retirement party served as a platform to recognize the immense dedication and hard work that Joan and Josephine had put into their respective positions within the tribe. Josephine, who joined the tribe in 1975, emphasized the importance of preserving their culture, saying, "Our culture is what's the most important thing to keep Shinnecock as Shinnecock." Josephine further highlighted the significance of their connections to the land, medicines, foods, art, and waters, emphasizing that these gifts from the Creator sustain them as a people.

Joan, who began working for the tribe in 1997, was recognized as a loving and devoted woman who made significant contributions to the community. Marguerite Smith spoke highly of Joan, describing her as a brilliant and dedicated Shinnecock woman who showed immense love for her Indian people and her children. Executive Director Jason Cofield, Joan's son, expressed his admiration for her as a single mother who pursued her master's degree while raising her children. He said, "She's an incredible person."

The retirement party was not only a moment of appreciation but also an opportunity to reflect on the impact these two women had on the Shinnecock tribe. Attendees acknowledged the important role that women play within the tribe, with Jason Cofield stating, "The women of our tribe are the backbone. Let's be honest. I mean, look around this room right now. If you look at the employee list, if you look at the leadership roles that we have outside of the council, it's our women. Our women are the ones that they are the backbone of this community."

The event served as a reminder of the legacy that Joan and Josephine leave behind. Their dedication, inspiration, and leadership have shaped the Shinnecock community and will continue to influence future generations. Paula Collins, the Coordinator of the Shinnecock Community Health Worker Program, expressed her commitment to carry on Joan's work, stating, "I'm gonna use the skills that I learned from you, Joan, to revamp that program, breathe new life into it. And I promise you it's gonna be what it was before."

The retirement party was a heartfelt and meaningful celebration of Joan Williams, Health Advocate for the Community Health Worker Program, and Josephine Smith, Director of the Shinnecock Cultural Resources Department's remarkable contributions to the Shinnecock tribe. It highlighted their impact on the community and served as a reminder of the importance of preserving their culture and empowering future generations.

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