This is a guest post by Cathy Bolling, originally published in the Island Post.
Community Connections honored its Prince of Wales staff at an agency dinner on Friday, October 14, attended by more than 100 staff, their family members and friends.
Community Connections is a non-profit human service organization providing supportive services to all ages, from infants to elders. Its main service departments are the Early learning Program, Children’s Mental Health Services, and Senior and Disability Services.
Executive Director Bess Clark, Children’s Mental Health Services Program Director Carolyn Eckholm and Senior and Disability Services Program Director Brittany Pope attended from the agency’s Ketchikan Office.
Board member Ralph Mackie of Craig also attended.
Several awards were presented, for longevity and service.
Rural Office Services Coordinator Jan Lemire and ELP Director Brynn Bolling-Castle were recognized for 15 years of service. Lemire received a standing ovation when accepting her award. Bolling-Castle was absent, as she was attending a director’s meeting in Anchorage.
Recognized for five years of service were CMH Service Coordinator Wanda Isaacs of Klawock and Support Specialist Kelly Zwick of Naukati. SDS Support Specialists June Durgan of Craig, Sandra Peele of Hydaburg and Drew Richter of Craig were also recognized. Richter also works with the administrative team.
Service awards were presented to seven staff members, based on nominations from co-workers, supervisors and customers. Here are highlights from each award narrative, as presented by Clark and Mackie:
Jan Lemire received the agency’s Customer Service award for providing individualized services to customers and staff at an exceptional level. She is described as a “jack of all trades,” dealing with IT issues one minute and customer requests the next. She is a can-do sort of person.
“Jan lives the mission and core values of Community Connections.”
SDS Program Associate Diane Deniger received the Innovation Award for her patient and persistent work in reorganizing that program’s filing system. Her teammates noted her reminders, suggestions and different ways of thinking ultimately help them provide better services.
“She consistently thinks outside the box, bringing fresh ideas to established processes.”
SDS Support Specialist Ann James of Klawock received the Direct Service Innovation Award for creative ways she has empowered her customer toward physical activity, community involvement and healthy lifestyle practices. When reading became difficult for the customer, she introduced audiobooks. When movement became challenging, she introduced special exercises. When fear presented itself, she ensured comfort by gently explaining, removing barriers and encouraging independence.
“Ann, we definitely appreciate your thoughtful and innovative approach to service delivery.
CMH Support Specialist Karmen Edenshaw of Hydaburg received the Direct Service Versatility Award for tailoring services to meet the unique needs of each person served and flexing her schedule to best meet customer requirements. Edenshaw identifies barriers to success, provides ideas for assistance and takes the initiative to develop tools to meet goals.
“With flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done, Karmen exemplifies versatility.”
CMH Site Supervisor Vanette Musser of Naukati received the Direct Service Award of Versatility for her willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done effectively. She is always professional and respectful whether working with therapists, school personnel, community members or other members of her team.
“Her willingness to help and commitment to others is remarkable and a direct reflection of Community Connection’s core values.”
SDS Support Specialist Cathy Bolling of Craig received the Direct Service Award of Excellence for providing supports based on the unique characteristics of her customers. She uses respectful communication, is patient with her customers, and supports her customers in safe and thoughtful ways as they work toward achieving their goals. Bolling also works for the administrative team.
“She is attuned to her customer’s wants and needs and continually provides kind and nurturing care.”
SDS Rural Service Manager Tammy Richter of Klawock received the Supervisory Award of Excellence for her strong commitment to both staff and customers. She supervises with a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement and expects exceptional service delivery. But she is also quick to intervene when her staff does not receive the respect they deserve.
“Tammy is available and supportive when staff has issues, needs help with problem solving or just needs to reschedule work for personal reasons.”
Music was provided by Sally Burch and John Bruns and food was catered by the Fireweed Lodge.
Door prizes were awarded to staff throughout the evening, provided by several local businesses and presented by Shaun Owen.
Guests were also entertained by a rap performed by Clark, Pope and Eckholm, telling the history of Community Connections on Prince of Wales Island.
Mackie and the organizing committee also led the crowd in a singalong written for the occasion.