The Iowa Association of Community Providers (IACP) announced the Frontline Supervisor Award at the annual conference in April. Over 100 nominations were received from agencies across the state. IACP recognizes that Frontline supervisors (FLS) play a critical role in bringing together all of the pieces of service delivery and have a tremendous impact on the lives of Iowans with disabilities. Mainstream Living’s Serena McCuen was honored as one of the five recipients of this award! Listed below is an excerpt of her nomination. Angela Beane was also nominated. Please help us in congratulating Serena for her recognition!
Serena McCuen is best described as a champion for advocacy. Serena has been employed with Mainstream Living just over a year, hired as a Team Leader overseeing a caseload of 13 members living with daily and hourly supports. In Serena’s short time at Mainstream Living, she has become a crusader and advocate for members. For example, Serena works with a gentleman who has been with the organization for four years. This gentleman wants nothing more than to be employed or, at the very least, have something to do during the day. While he uses a wheelchair for mobility, his biggest challenge is that he is a brittle diabetic who needs blood sugars checked multiple times per day and may need insulin injections at those times as well. Because of his spastic movements, he is unable to do the injections himself. Prior to Serena joining Mainstream, we felt we felt certain that there were no programs available to meet his needs. Serena did not accept this and thanks to her help and creativity, she found a day program that was willing to give it a shot. The man has been attending part-time since September and is loving it. Serena was also able to convince the parents/guardians to approve of him attending Camp Sunnyside last year. She checked on him most days to be able to report to his family that he was doing well - so well in fact that he will be attending again this summer. Without her advocacy his family would not have allowed this opportunity for fear of his health. Serena has gained their trust which has resulted in huge successes for this member.
Serena works with another man who has been declining in physical health and mental health. The psychiatrist would say the symptoms were neurological and the neurologist would say he could not treat as they were psychological. Serena would not accept this. She pushed long and hard and was able to advocate for a neuro-psych appointment in Iowa City.
These are just a couple of the challenges that Serena has taken on in her short time with Mainstream Living. She is active with her staff and the individuals under her responsibility. She attends the medical appointments with the members and their families and has build a level of commitment and trust that families now seek her out for advice and assistance. Serena is a leader for the Direct Support Professionals, modeling the way each day. She is a primary trainer for the sites she oversees and makes an effort to work along-side of her employees until they are comfortable in their duties. Serena trains staff until they reach a level of confidence that is necessary. Serena is a role model for other Front-Line Supervisors in how she works with, trains and develops relationships with the members, their families and her employees. We are proud to have her as part of our team.
From her first day of employment, Angie has lead by example and demonstrates our agency mission, vision and values. After a few short months it was evident that Angie’s dedication, passion, and leadership were just some of her greatest qualities, and in less than a year she moved into a team lead position for the Transition Age Youth (TAY) program.
The TAY program is designed to bridge the gap as children with mental illness age into adulthood. Our program goal is to be a diversion from long-term dependence on government funded programs and supports. This can be a very difficult and challenging time for young people and it is common for them to engage in unsafe and ineffective coping skills that result in harm. Additionally, it is very difficult for them to build a trusting relationship with most adults. Angie’s dynamic positive energy and genuine concern has a profound effect on these young people.
In July of 2017, a young man moved into Mainstream on his 18th birthday. Prior placements had provided him with tools and education to manage his mental illness but he was unwilling to apply them to his everyday life. He was verbally aggressive and would posture to intimidate those he disagreed with. He would often threaten acts of violence towards his peers and staff. In his anger, he would often make vulgar and hurtful statements. Because of the positive relationship Angie has developed with him, she has been able to challenge his beliefs about cultures and ethnic groups different from his own. Those beliefs had been instilled in him at a young age resulting in numerous conflicts that impacted his relationships with his roommates, peers, family members, and staff. Processing through situations with him would often take days as his anger would often end most conversations. Angie was persistent and caring. As he began to trust her, he started journaling. When he began to read these entries aloud, he started to understand how his actions impacted others. Together they would write alternative endings to these situations so he could practice when he was faced with similar situations.
For the last six months, he has been gainfully employed and working 20 hours a week. He has also been able to work in his neighborhood helping out with lawn care and snow removal. He enjoys volunteering at the Furry Friends Refuge and is the first one to offer assistance when someone is moving. Through his work with Angie, he has learned how to take control of his emotions and is able to engage in healthy conflict. He has recently started to save money so that he can move into his own place within the next year.
This is just one story of many. Angie takes the time to get to know each person and helps them find their passion. Anyone who has had an opportunity to work with Angie is in agreement that she is remarkable. To Angie this isn’t a job, she is just doing what she does best.