2020 Annual Awards Announced
Believe It, Achieve It - Empowerment Award
Lisa was selected for the Empowerment Award for her work with one of our Aspen House members and a University of Minnesota communication study for people with Rhetts syndrome. With this study, one of the goals is to help the member to communicate their wants and needs more effectively. Through her interaction and relationships with the researcher and the guardian and her work with the member, progress has been made. The success was due to Lisa’s effort in advocating for the member to help it be more individualized and effective. Lisa is now working to identify whether this study may be useful to other staff in communicating with members who are non-verbal.
Effective and healthy communication is one of the hardest skills for our TAY members to understand, practice, and learn. Joe had some major success when he developed and established "guided-group" interaction at the Tower House during the late spring/early summer as a way for members to learn how to communicate with other group members through the use of objective, non-threatening language. By learning this highly effective communication skill, the members were able to develop more cohesive communication flows as well as enhance levels of trust within the group. The members who participated in this group provided positive feedback to him and in that they really appreciated the group and felt their needs were being met through participation.
Overall, Joe excels in working with members who have more difficulties or are even physically or verbally aggressive. He works hand in hand with the member to resolve behaviors and has a great ability to develop personal connections that allow him to listen without judgement.
Community Inclusion Award
Yen exhibits all the qualities of an excellent DSP and consistently takes initiative in finding ways to interact with the members and integrate them into their home and community. During the pandemic Yen has been especially crucial to the members at the Knapp house as she proposes going on walks with those who are displaying signs of sadness, or offers to stay back and do more around the house so members can go for a ride in the van. In each of these situations, Yen's diligence has added greatly to the happiness of the members during these trying times. Additionally, she has found ways to raise the spirits of those at the Baker house by collaborating with the staff there. She will call the house to talk with the members or have video chats, all which have been very beneficial to those who are not as active during the pandemic. There are many examples of her work in keeping people engaged, including setting up a vegetable and flower garden in which members help to care for and enjoy the plants. Yen truly values relationships with each individual members and routinely goes above and beyond to ensure that everyone feels special.
Winners in Wellness Award
Mindy was able to change the way one of her members was eating. The member was eating many frozen meals and is now eating cooked meals with real meats which satisfies the members hunger better all while maintaining the doctor-ordered diet that the member is on. Mindy has incorporated fresh fruits and vegetables along with fresh proteins rather than frozen or packaged/ processed items. Her efforts and diligence in working with this particular member were done so in a way that made the member feel as though they were involved and were given choices. This has not only resulted in a healthier lifestyle, but a noticeable change in happiness as well.
Charity currently is the day staff at a site where the members have historically struggled with following a healthy daily routine. Charity was able to identify that a few of the members might be more motivated to complete a routine if they had more control to create their own personalized routine. She encouraged the members to self-advocate for themselves and helped them with creating their own personal schedules. This proved to be very motivating for a few of the members. They slept less during the day and showed more confidence and willingness with taking care of their home and selves.
She has worked closely with a member that returned to our program after transitioning into his own apartment about a year ago. He had some significant struggles with his mental health and substance abuse and a recent criminal charge that created additional struggles. He wanted to get the help that he needed and came back to the TAY program. He was very scared and stressed though because of his recent actions and felt like he would be judged and not welcomed. Once Charity got word of his return and what happened, she took it upon herself and facilitated a house meeting with the current members living in the house. She gave the members a chance to process their thoughts and feelings in a group setting. She inserted the thought that EVERYONE has a STORY and that everyone deserves a second chance and not to be judged by others. We really feel that because of her ability to be so proactive and caring, his transition was so much smoother for both him and the members that resided there.
Champion of Change Award
Sklyer has stepped up while Joe (the team’s ATL) has been out for medical leave and on restricted duties. She has become an unofficial Assistant Team Leader and gone out of her way to support her supervisor (Dean), the team, and the members during some challenging times. She is continually focused on improving processes or systems and working diligently to solve problems. Her professionalism and leadership during the past year has been an asset. There has been some chaos during the COVID period, but Skyler has handled things professionally while facilitating needs for members and the site. She has coordinated supply deliveries for the site, made sure members are getting needed medical care by communicating with physicians, and encouraged created activities to keep people busy while remaining at home. She even helped staff learn how to grocery shop online so they could work with members to do so. She has planted flowers on her own, volunteered to do landscaping projects and cleaned garages. She understands the importance of creating a positive environment that often starts with the way a home looks and feels. Her willingness to volunteer to get her hands dirty to improve both the outside and inside of our member's homes has not gone unnoticed and is very much appreciated. Dean states that Skyler is one of the best employees he has had in his 14 years supervising staff.
Difference Maker of the Year
We are pleased to announce LaShonda as the Difference Maker of the Year for Mental Health. LaShonda has developed a mutually respectful relationship with the members on her caseload. She uses the member's formal goals to explore interests, identify coping skills and help them solve problems that may interfere with their recovery.
LaShonda isn't satisfied with doing the minimum, she is tenacious and uses various techniques to involve the members in their recovery by using role playing, role modeling, exposure and education. She is creative and dedicated to finding solutions, especially during these last few months of the pandemic. As a non-traditional school year started this fall, LaShonda worked with two moms to help them set up a personalized work space for their children. They discussed available resources for the children if they needed additional help. She role modeled parenting skills by opening up a discussion with mother and child about concerns or barriers
She has been successful in educating members with anxiety about how to safely integrate back into the community in the world of COVID by working with them to create an individualized plan to address coping skills. LaShonda has been active with one particular individual with major depression in exploring community interests. This individual rarely left his apartment. LaShonda spent time talking with him about his interests. With her help, this member has met people with shared interests and even attended a large car show outside of Des Moines with his new friends.
Kelly has been selected as the Difference Maker of the Year for Waiver Services. He has shown determination and initiative in assisting members in overcoming the isolation of Covid-19. This was important when one member became ill and had to stay in the basement of their house for a month with little social interactions. Kelly was the main staff during this member’s sickness (working one pay period for over 200 hours) and worked hard to help the members understand why they had to stay downstairs or in their rooms. He told them basic information about the pandemic and how to keep others safe.
Kelly exemplifies the core values of Mainstream Living when he works at the house. Kelly shows respect for the members he serves and is also respectful to his coworkers and management. He is always willing to collaborate with staff and his supervisors to make sure the members are being served in the best way possible. Kelly shows integrity and accountability for his actions and is always willing to improve his skills as a DSP.He helps to empower the members to better their lives by following diets, exercise plans, and mental health coping skills. It is hard to put into words just how valuable Kelly is to our team and our members. He is a strong role model for everyone he works with.
Rising Star - Leader of the Year
Emma has been selected as this year’s Rising Star Leader. She was nominated by her supervisor Megan for stepping up when Megan was gone due to an emergency. Emma took on several tough situations, while working shifts, and managed to keep things afloat and well. Megan says she never has to worry about anything with Emma on the team.
When Emma first started with Mainstream, Megan remembers her being a little timid, but over time, she has come out of her shell and shine in her role as an ATL. She is now someone Megan turns to for questions because she is so knowledgeable and always willing to learn more. Emma chose to apply to and was selected for the MEL program. Emma has taken this opportunity to grow in her position, as well as her place at Mainstream Living. Emma consistently demonstrates great pride in the work that she does and that is part of what makes her such a strong and fair leader. Her devotion to the members shows in her work and such integrity is a great example for those around her.