Mainstream Living

2019 Annual Award Winners Announced

October 31, 2019

Believe It, Achieve It - Empowerment Award

John Frakes

John Frakes is being presented with the Believe It, Achieve It Empowerment Award for promoting best practices in increasing independence in our members.  John was nominated by Ben Weiss for his work with two specific members.  Although John has only worked with these two a short time, he has significantly helped increase their independence by helping them learn to advocate for themselves.  He assisted one member in identifying and moving to a new living situation when he no longer felt safe.  He assisted another member in moving from cooking solely in the microwave to learning how to use other methods like the oven or slow cooker, which has resulted in healthier eating habits and weight loss. John consistently puts members first and demonstrates great leadership in helping members understand how to work towards their own interests and achieve success.

Charlotte Tonelli

Charlotte, known as “Lottie,” was selected for the Believe It Achieve It Empowerment Award for going above and beyond the normal scope of duties to help enable members to meet individual goals for living, working, learning, and socializing in the community.  Lottie was nominated by Angie Beane Lottie for her work in assisting member in overcoming challenges so that they can be more independent. She worked closely with a member who has autism in helping her to learn to ride the bus in order to be active in the community.  This member was particularly uncomfortable riding the bus for a variety of reasons.  Lottie rode with her many times, helped her to manage routes, but most importantly, assisted the member with tools when she was feeling uncomfortable. This member now rides all over the community and uses creative tools like wearing sunglasses or reading when she feels uncomfortable.  This member is even helping to train others at how to use the bus.  She is working with another member who is just six credits shy of graduation.  Lottie has been involved with his team at school and has helped the member develop healthy routines to overcome barriers to he can graduate.  Overall, Lottie does an excellent job of meeting our members where they are at in their recovery. She leads by example and has demonstrated that the solution to working with members is starting slowly and then transfer that confidence into new and more challenging situations.

Community Inclusion Award

JamieJo Spatz 

JamieJo is receiving the Community Inclusion Award for doing an outstanding job of identifying, pursuing, and successfully integrating members into the community.  She was nominated by McKenzie Coons for her work at Knapp House, even though she works at a number of sites. In  her nomination, McKenzie noted that out of the shifts JamieJo worked, over 41% of them were spent focused on the inclusion of members into the community, which is exceptionally high given the level of care that our medically-fragile members require.  It is also common for her to encourage her coworkers to plan outings, giving as many members access to the community as possible. While out in the community, JamieJo also facilitates communication between members and other community members.  She is an amazing advocate for people with disabilities and eager to provide new and meaningful opportunities to those we serve.  We are fortunate to have her on our team.
Shania Walker 

We selected Shania Walker for the Community Inclusion Award because she consistently displays a commitment to inclusion and integration for members.  Shania was nominated by her supervisor Megan Smith for being an example of how an employee can assist members in feeling included in social settings or in the greater community. Shania took it upon herself to learn sign language so that she can communicate more effectively with a member who can be very stubborn and difficult to work with. This has resulted in the development of a very positive relationship which has helped Shania explore with new volunteer opportunities for this member.  Shania has worked with another member who struggles with her weight.  Again, she has worked hard to build a trusting relationship with the member and helped her to explore new healthy snacks and creative ways to exercise.  Shania excels in learning the little details about each member in an effort to help them achieve their goals in and out of the community.  She truly wants each member to be the best they can be and be happy while doing so.

Winners in Wellness Award

Dale Bayliss 

Dale was selected as one of our Winners in Wellness because he has worked closely with a member to improve their mental or physical health.  Dale was nominated by Ben Weiss who notes that he has typically been the staff to oversee appointments at our Glenstone location.  There have been some changes at the site with a new member in the house and the adjustment of schedules, Dale is no longer the only staff taking members to all appointments, but has worked with his coworkers and supervisor to ensure that members are getting the best care possible.  There was a recent instance where a member had a fall at work that resulted in a minor brain injury that required surgery. Dale has worked with this member for many years and came in when he wasn’t scheduled to meet with the family and facilitate communication at the Emergency Room.  He then went on to schedule and coordinate all the follow-up care that was required after the surgery. This was a huge comfort to the family during a stressful time. 

Evelyn Hudson 

Evelyn is receiving the Winners in Wellness award for assisting a member in incorporating new actions and routines into their daily lives in order to improve their health.  Evelyn was nominated by her supervisor Jessica Anderson for stepping in when there was no longer a nurse on site.  Evelyn took the initiative to research necessary appointments and arranged/rearranged schedules to ensure members were on track with their medical care. She then continued to track all medical needs and communicate issues, concerns, and updates to other stakeholders. Evelyn also attends as many appointments as possible and demonstrates leadership in being an advocate for people with disabilities and supporting members in their health and wellness goals.   She even helped to organize and present training to Center staff on the needs specific to a particular member and their needed supplies and treatment.  In the time Evelyn has taken on this responsibility, she has worked closely with physicians, guardians, and her team leader to ensure that the members' medical care and overall wellbeing is a top priority.

Champion of Change Award

Jade Hols 

Jade has been chosen for the Champion of Change Award due to her leadership in championing necessary change over the course of the last year.  Jade was nominated by Emily Noland for her work as a Program Administrator at Mainstream’s RCF/PMI, otherwise known as Fremont.  This facility has gone through multiple changes in moving from more of an institutional based program to a recovery-based program.  The old program was more focused on maintaining the day to day rather than assisting members with the resources and support necessary to achieve goals.  The changes have been challenging and there has been push-back from staff. In the midst of a complete change in service delivery, there have also been a number of process changes, including the move to electronic paperwork.  However, Jade has been a great leader in not only providing direction, but also asking for feedback from both staff and members throughout the process.  This has helped foster a more positive environment during a difficult transition. The changes, combined with Jade’s leadership have resulted in members having more opportunities to work towards goals and identify their purpose.  These changes have been a success because of Jade’s commitment and passion. 

Difference Maker of the Year

Andrea Gruefe 

We are pleased to announce Andrea as the Difference Maker of the Year for Waiver Services.  Andrea was nominated by Connie Mortvedt for demonstrating initiative, creativity, and determination in assisting a member in overcoming challenges or achieving goals. Andrea began working with a member about a year ago who has had a reputation for exhibiting extremely challenging behaviors. As with many Direct Support Professionals, Andrea expressed some apprehension of spending time with this person and becoming the lead staff in his programming.  However, Andrea took her new responsibility seriously and made an effort to get to know the member, learned his needs and abilities, his signals, and his very special way of communication. 

As time went on, Andrea began to see the joy and overall rewards of spending time with this member and in turn, he responded in a positive manner. And although there were some difficult moments, Andrea persisted.  Very quickly Andrea learned creative ways to maintain the member’s attention.  With her guidance, she and the site team have developed consistent daily routines which has led to reduced behavioral situations and decreased his anxiety and stress. Andrea has also taken the member on new adventures which had previously been very difficult.  Now, a year later, the bond between this member and Andrea continues to grow. It is very difficult to put into words just how much Andrea has impacted the life of this individual. Through dedication and determination Andrea has most definitely made a difference, helping him to mature, providing guidance and developing an environment he feels safe in. Andrea has become a friend he can trust. She is a fantastic role model for other employees in both her knowledge and attitude. Andrea is an asset to Mainstream Living and more importantly, to the member and his family.

Owen Bell 

Owen has been selected as the Difference Maker of the Year for the Mental Health Program.  Owen was nominated by Angie Beane and Betsy DeHaan for building mutual respect with members by continually asking if Mainstream’s programs and services are “Good Enough for Me” and inspiring others to do the same. Owen has worked off an on for the organization for a number of years, but has always shown a commitment to leading by example in order to provide the very best services to our members. There are many examples of Owen’s dedication to our members and the organization.  He has worked with specific members who struggle with outings or groups.  Owen works to build relationships and offer realistic ways that members can cope with issues like anxiety or paranoia.  He also makes it a priority to ensure that a member’s home actually feels like home.  He creates an environment of mutual respect and encourages members to interact with one another, including encouraging eating meals together.  Owen’s regular visits to members have been critical in developing independent living skills.  His focus is on each individual and tailoring his approach to meet people where they are so they can actively engage in their recovery.   In addition to Owen’s direct role with services, he also is a shift coach and mentor for other employees. He continually goes above and beyond these duties, especially when there may be a disruption to a member’s routine. He is a role model for others and is respected by his peers.  Owen sets the tone for those he works with as someone who wants to better himself and encourages others to do the same.  He continually seeks feedback from others and embodies the value of collaboration, which is evident in the way that his peers and the members he serves look to him for assistance and leadership. Owen is proactive and goal oriented and dedicated to service.  He is unselfish and the mental health team and our members are lucky to have him.

Rising Star - Leader of the Year

Aimee Widdowson

Aimee has been selected as this year’s Rising Star Leader.  She was nominated by Jessica Hensch for possessing outstanding talent, dedication, and leadership skills and demonstrating expertise, professionalism, and passion in working with direct reports, peers, management, members, families, and other stakeholders.  Aimee does a phenomenal job in her position as Assistant Team Lead and shown an immense amount of growth in the last year in her ability to help the Direct Support Professionals on our team become a stronger, more cohesive team though training them directly and fostering a culture of communication at each of the sites we manage.
Aimee is a model for what it means to take initiative in identifying solutions that improve services. She is creative in implementing changes and focused on streamlining processes where possible.  The staff on our team frequently mention how valuable Aimee is as a resource.  She never hesitates to delegate and understands the value of a confident, competent team at our sites and She takes the time to explain, model, train and praise the staff for jobs well done. 
While Aimee is a wonderful leader for our staff, her commitment to the members’ quality of care is unparalleled. On a daily basis, she works to ensure that members have what they need to be happy, healthy and safe. Aimee will often be found talking to members about healthier choices, researching different types of diets for the members, informing them about exercise routines and ensuring the members get to their medical  appointments and is often asked to attend the more difficult ones because she is able to help them stay calm. Aimee is a constant cheerleader for everyone. She has an innate ability to rally our team for more challenging projects. Overall, Aimee is a leader because she does the right thing, even when it isn't convenient. What matters most to her is doing right by the members, the staff that work for us and her co-workers.

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