After nearly 3 decades, Henricks
It's all about "lasts" this week for Bruce Henricks
After graduating Austin High School, Henricks earned an associate's degree from then-Austin Junior College and a bachelor's degree from Mankato (now Minnesota) State University.
worked 6 1/2 years as an accountant for Wilson Foods in Albert Lea before being hired by Mower County DHS director Bob Schulz.
"I was an accountant and we worked with ledgers in those days," he said.
began work Mower County DHS almost three decades ago, there were 32 employees.
Today, there are more than 56.
worked as an accountant from 1979 to 1985, when he
became administrative assistant to Schulz.
When the DHS director retired in 1993, Henricks replaced him.
was there when the DHS
moved from its North Main Street strip mall location to its current location at OakPark Mall in the former J.C. Penney Store in November 2004.
In recalling near three decades of public service, Henricks
said 1981 was a watershed year, because it ushered in the era of home and community-based waivers.
But change would come fast and furious to Henricks'
chosen career path.
Adult protection, basic health care coverage, long term care, child support ... the life lines extended by DHS
All came with a price-tag that has created a growing demand on government's limited resources.
The questions, Henricks
and others like him faced, when the 1990s became a millennium were: Can DHS be all things to all people?
Does it have enough resources to deliver the needed programs and services?
Last question answered first.
"No, we don't," Henricks
The County Board
has done what they could to help us."
Still the cost-shifts from the state, mandated programs without funding, push a greater responsibility upon county governments to provide human services.
That situation has caused DHS
to "do away with almost all optional services," Henricks
said as the financial times worsened.
In an effort to reduce spending further, Henricks
and others slashed their own travel and training budget.
pushed through tough financial times at the end of his
said it made him more aware of what people need to survive.
"I've had to learn to work with and appreciate what people go through in life," he
learned something from everyone he
encountered in life, in the DHS
Working as an accountant and then the DHS
department head was a good match for Henricks
, who said, "I only wanted to be an accountant."
The human misery toll was immense.
One can't help but work in human services without being impacted by it.
said, yes, there were the frustrations of mending holes in the human safety net to protect the needy ... just as there were success stories, too.
Twenty-nine years doing a job he
"loved" doing and doing it with people he
admired and appreciated leaves him satisfied.
"It's the right time for me to leave," he
said of his
decision to retire now.