September 2019 Newsletter
September 11, 6:45 AM

Dear Diary,
I start today thinking of the many tasks I need to achieve. I try to mentally prepare myself for a long day ahead. I know I am used to long days, but today is long for a better reason. I am stopping to visit the Direct Support Professionals working evening shifts. Before I return to my house tonight, I will have worked 18 hours. I won’t see my kids or wife today, leaving the house before they wake-up and returning after they’ve gone to bed. There won’t be a chance to close my eyes for a quick rest or jump in the shower to wash some hours of tension away. I can say that I know this is what our DSP’s do every day, but walking in their shoes for just a brief moment brings me to have an even greater appreciation. I am on an extraordinary team, and people are counting on me. I know I wear the badge of C.E.O., but the DSP’s, they are the all-star players. They work these longs shifts daily, no siesta, no shower, missing family time, missing “take care of you” time. I am continually humbled by the caring people of this agency. They don’t just care about people’s lives; they care FOR people’s lives!

My team is counting on me. I take a deep breath, straighten my tie (oh wait, I am not wearing one today) and head out the door.
Midday Update 2:30 PM:
I reached my desk at 8:15 AM.  Goals for the day include answering emails, making phone calls, and attending my 10 AM conversation. One thing leads to another, and soon I realize it's time for my 2 PM phone call. I let out a sigh and wonder how often our DSP have these hurried days. My guess is most of the time. We all know Caregiving is one of the most stressful jobs to hold. Soon it's 4:15 PM. I was supposed to leave 15 minutes ago to visit the staff at Brunswick Center. Sandy, my evening partner, and I start off to catch who we can. Lucky, we get the chance to thank a line of staff heading to their vehicles after a hard day of work. It was great to see many smiling faces and shout outs of hello. I think how blessed we are to be surrounded by these wonderful people. We head in to find others who haven’t gone yet. They are cleaning up from a dinner of appreciation to the staff to give back just a little. Jumping in, I volunteer to wash the pans. Although my tour this evening is for DSP, I recognize the many employees in many roles deserve to be appreciated as well. 
Evening Update @ 7 PM
Sandy and I are off to visit the houses.  First stop, Sandy’s original place of employment, Poestenkill. The impressive part to me is in Sandy’s over 30 years; many of the residents remain living in their home. It strikes a chord inside me of the family we have become. It also is a humbling reminder that we operate homes. It might be our work, but to the resident, it is their home. Something worth taking a moment to reflect on. How do we keep this fact in mind? There has to be a delicate balance of bringing in rules and regulations to someone’s home and coming into someone’s house and affording them the respect that you would give any person when you enter into their home. The folks we support want that same level of respect. We also want staff to feel valued and appreciated. Unfortunately, the economics of the system does not allow for the salaries we would like to pay our well-deserving staff, and we (resident, family, and provider) continue to voice the need for better wages.

On the 3 PM to 11 PM shift the workers play several roles. They help with medical needs; prepare, serve and clean up meals; help individuals with evening activities; support getting ready for bed and the next day; coach about the daily interactions; and help keep the residence clean. It all sounds so neat and tidy, but it’s not. Not everyone dresses the same, talks the same, sleeps at the same time or wakes at the same time. I think of how the care of individuals is very much like a well orchestrated symphony and to get every instrument to play the right note at the right time is really quite impressive. 
September 12, 10 AM:
I went into work a little late today so I could get an extra hour of sleep. It wasn’t easy to turn myself off after visiting our houses. I kept thinking of these people who give of themselves unconditionally each day. I know they don’t have the chance to sleep in or go to work late. I wonder why they do what they do. It’s not for a paycheck. We all know this job. They could work for so many places and get paid more. It is not for the hours, it's not because it is an easy in easy out job. I realize that it is about family; about widening the circle of people you care about and who care about you. It is about valuing a greater good, being part of the big picture of something that matters. This is not to say that our Direct Support Professionals don’t have family and bigger pictures in their personal lives. That’s the most humbling thing. They do have family, bills, daily stress, yet in they come to work each day.
I have always known the work the DSPs do is valuable. The DSP 2019 Appreciation Tour helped reinforce to me that they work hard and deserve a living wage How lucky I am to be a part of this dynamic team. I know the days are long and exhausting for many of our staff. They work 16 hour days week after week. We face a staffing crisis that we are working tirelessly to change. We are bound by funding which impacts the pay rates that barely cover the cost of living. I know I have to continue to work for change so that others understand and see what I see. Help me in this fight by following us on Facebook. Listen to the news on the State Budget, and tell your representatives to vote for a living wage for Direct Support Professionals. 
I am off to work today aware of my goal. I have to work hard not only for the people we support but the people who support our individuals. They are the ones making a day by day difference in our small pond. I know, however, that when you combine our small pond with the next small pond and then the next we become a much larger pond and together we can create a ripple effect that can change to world. I look forward to having you along on the journey.

Don Mullin, CEO
I sign off with these words… 

Direct Support Professionals Celebrated BCS Style!
With the same anticipation a child might feel on their birthday or a special holiday, Brunswick Center Support Services set out to accomplish some well earned spoiling of their Direct Support Professionals. T-shirts, dinner and this year's give back event "Soak The Supervisor" were among the special events that filled the week.
A Perfect Day For A Picnic
On September 6, 2019 The Arc of Rensselaer County held its annual Employee Appreciation Picnic at Dukes Grove in Waterford NY. Smiles and comradery filled the evening as we celebrated the miles stones of Staff and recognized outstanding accomplishments.

Those honored for 5 years of service are:Kristine Anthony, Kristin Benson, Marissa Brundige, Nicole Cannon, Jillian Daby, Kalynn Droz, Genell Fierro, Daniel Gallagher, Kashay Gonzalez, Tamara Holmes, Kelly Hull, Jennifer Illenberg, Patricia McBride, Jon Moccio, Kiersten Murphy, Donna Neaton, Wilson Pickett, Krystal Remillard, Gregory Sheares, Brittany Sheehy, Shauna Sibinich, Hongwei Zhang
Those honored with 10 years of service award are Susan Buckley, Seamus Moran and William Marohn.

15 Year awards were received by: Nicole Campbell, Catherine Meyers,

Nina Morgan, Diane O'Keefe, Aimee Pagan
20 year awards were received by: Rebeckah Desposito, Diane Fisher, Tracey Mattoon, Don Mullin, and Shawn Ryan.
25 Years of Service Awards were received by: Michelle Domey, Todd Finkle, and Melissa Reynolds
Cindy Case was presented an award for 30 Years of Service . Tony Purificato for 35! We thank you all for your time, care, compassion, and support for the Arc over the years!
The Every Day Hero Support Staff Award was given to those who support functions within the agency and excel by providing excellent customer service, willingness to help others, and going above the "call of duty". Those receiving this award are as follows:John Greene, Robin Zimmerman, Erin LaPerche, Renee Williams, Cindy Hulsopple, Kaylnn Droz, Nikki Cannon, Crystal Ladd, Diane Fisher, and Kim Slade.

This year's Everyday Hero Direct Support Staff Award was given to Geri May, Ashley Fletcher, Marissa Brundige, Sharael Cancer, Robin Rounds, Kerri Barry, Jazmin Powell-Branch, Joseph Levy, and Kyah Stevens. In addition this award was given to the team working with John Larose, better known as the Coffee Cart Guy. Maurice (Moe) McFadden, Stacy Weeks, Krystal Remillard, Alexandria Speller, Tiara Langenback and Asaddi Sankey. John has been battling some health issues this year and his team has been there at every turn. We thank you all for your care and support.
Tomorrow's Leader Award is given to someone who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and who actively pursues learning and involvement in leadership roles to better the agency. This award was given to Melinda Colangione.
The Thomas A. Maul:Direct Support Professional Excellence Award is an award created in honor of Thomas A. Maul, who during his tenure as OMRDD Commissioner, addressed many long standing issues that face our association and the people we support. This year the Thomas Maul award was presented to two Direct Support Professionals within the Arc of Rensselaer County to recognize their consistent excellence, creativity and commitment in providing services to the people we support. This year the award was give to Jillian Daby and Jennifer Illenberg. Congratulations to you both.
The Arc would sincerely like to thank the Employee Picnic Committee for their hard work and commitment to once again making this years picnic an outstanding event!
Thank You To eBizDocs
Friday the 13th of September brought only good things to the Arc when Howard Gross and his team from eBizDocs and Q-Biz treated the staff of the Arc to a delicious barbecue including Q-Biz's award winning slow cooked ribs, chicken and all the fix-in's. The food was served with a smile by staff at the Business Office while DJ Dave Towsley set the atmosphere for fun and relaxation, spinning tunes that kept everyone's toes tapping.
To celebrate her first year as a Direct Support Professional Geniene Jackson baked a cake to share with the Arc. Filled with strawberries and cookie crumbles around the outside, it was a delicious and thoughtful way to celebrate our DSPs. Thank you Geniene!
Thank You To Our Community Partners Breakfast Sponsors
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