Derya E. Williams, a former CEO of River Region, is remembered as an incredible adviser, friend and inspiration to many throughout River Region, as well as the community that she served. For 30 years, she showed an incredible passion and commitment that quickly became a lasting part of the culture of River Region Human Services. She gave encouragement to everyone she encountered by making clients, employees, colleagues, friends and acquaintances believe they could do more because they had the strength, talent, and her support to address every challenge.
Derya began her career at River Region as a counselor in the residential treatment program. She was the driving force in expanding the services offered on the campus, which now includes Andy’s Place, a facility that offers permanent supportive housing for homeless adults. In addition, mothers and their children now have a place of refuge on that campus. Derya ensured that this property would belong to the agency as long as River Region Human Services exists, so it is with great pride that her legacy is memorialized at this location. In honor of her service to the community and the agency, these remembrances have been created:
- River Region celebrates her life with an annual walk celebrating her memory.
- On September 11, 2012, the Jacksonville City Council approved the posting of honorary street signs on Parental Home Road bearing the name, Derya E. Williams Parkway.
- The residential campus on Parental Home Road has been renamed the Derya E. Williams Campus, providing housing, treatment and supportive services to more than 100 men, women and children.
- Located among the Andy’s Place units, a reflection garden has been created by employees and clients in honor of Derya, who encouraged all to sit quietly and listen to their hearts.
- A Life Quilt designed and sewn by residents of Andy’s Place in honor of her service to people with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. This quilt will be proudly displayed throughout the agency’s locations and eventually displayed permanently at the community center at Andy’s Place.