MILFORD — Of the 500-plus people employed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, one is singled out annually for the Joseph H. Dulin Staff of the Year Award.
This year, Paul Dorey, executive director of the organization’s Milford branch, was recognized for his 14 years of service.
“I started out as the administrative assistant in Seaford and then went to aquatic director and then program director, and then, I became the executive director” in Milford in September 2019, Mr. Dorey said.
His nearly decade-and-a-half at the Boys & Girls Clubs is a continuation of his lifelong public service.
“I was a volunteer firefighter,” Mr. Dorey said, adding, “I was in the Air Force for six years with the security police.”
When he finished his term with the military, his mother, who was involved with the club herself, let Mr. Dorey know that the Seaford location was looking for an administrative assistant. All these years later, Mr. Dorey has become one of the organization’s seasoned veterans.
“It’s a huge honor,” he said of the award, named after Joseph Dulin, the executive director of the Wilmington Boy’s Club from 1969-90. Mr. Dulin started in 1951, as the club’s physical education director.
“It’s presented annually to a staff member who goes above and beyond,” Mr. Dorey said of the award.
He said to be worthy, an employee must “continually demonstrate their commitment to enhancing the lives of the youth in Delaware. … It’s a pretty prestigious thing.”
His co-workers were very happy for him.
“I was not surprised when he made Staff of the Year at all,” said Najamah Nteh, the Milford branch’s membership coordinator.
“When I was first introduced to Mr. Paul, I was already impressed with the way he exemplifies this sense of organization and calm,” she said. “I understand that this particular industry is something that requires a lot of work. It requires a lot of consistency and organization, and you have to want to be here. That’s something that he does every day, and he does it effortlessly.”
The kids Mr. Dorey works with on a daily basis were also excited.
“They really appreciate Mr. Paul,” Ms. Nteh said.
“(He’s) not just a director that sits in the office. He’s not someone that you just go to when there’s an issue,” she said. “He’s usually in and out of the classrooms greeting the kids. They have a very good rapport with him. They’re excited to see him.”
Mr. Dorey was officially given the award in a surprise ceremony Feb. 24. “They actually had all the kids rally in the gym,” Mr. Dorey said. “They did a pretty good job hiding it from me.”
He was called out of the building for a fake meeting and returned to a surprise. “When I came back, everyone was in the gym congratulating me,” Mr. Dorey said. “We did a nice little ceremony.”
The parents, staff and kids in Milford have a deep appreciation for Mr. Dorey, but Ms. Nteh said his footprint extends beyond the city, since he helps out at Boys & Girls Club branches around the region.
“At every single club he participates at, he always leaves a mark,” Ms. Nteh said. “That to me says something very wonderful about him. He’s not just about working here at the Boys & Girls Club of Milford. He’s working for the Boys & Girls Club of America as a whole.”
But Mr. Dorey’s award is not simply a recognition of his decades of service. It’s also a gift of sorts, as this year, he’ll receive an extra monthly stipend, one additional paid day off and a plaque.
That’s all in addition to the large banner congratulating him, which now hangs in the branch’s lobby.