VALDOSTA -- A Tifton-based social worker was recognized Friday for making contributions of lasting impact and demonstrating repeated outstanding achievements.

Sandro Blalock was presented with the South Georgia Unit of the National Association of Social Workers' 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award. A member of the Tift County School System family, he described the honor as humbling.

"It's exciting," he said. "It's nice to be recognized by your peers, and for that, I am grateful. I enjoy what I do and like to believe I do good work. Something like this just makes me want to do even more, work even harder."

Blalock began his career as a teacher, having earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. Following several years of working in the classroom, he decided to switch gears and earned a master of social work degree from the University of South Carolina.

"I wanted to be more involved in working closely with families and children," he said. "I have never regretted that decision."

Blalock has worked as a social worker for more than 15 years in a variety of settings, including health care. He also experienced a brief stint as an industrial relations specialist with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

"Mr. Blalock is a walking cornerstone for the profession of social work," said social worker Lawanna Barron of Moody Air Force Base's Family Advocacy Center. "His spirit of caring has been seen throughout his social work career and work in the community, church, and healthcare. As professional social workers, we have been fortunate to have such a giving and well-respected colleague amongst us who has indeed given his life to our profession."

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