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Choices 2014 Summer

CHOICES Summer 2014

Community Options, Inc. provides housing and employment support to people with disabilities. Philosophy: All persons, regardless of their level of disability, can and should live and work in the community with dignity, choice, and self-determination. www.comop.org

May, 2014 - Some key Community Options' staff members from across the country pose for a photo at the 8th annual iMatter Conference in Princeton, NJ.

May, 2014 – Some key Community Options’ staff members from across the country pose for a photo at the 8th annual iMatter Conference in Princeton, NJ.

 

 Building Stronger Teams

Community Options, Inc. has always taken strategic steps to improving the quality of programs and services they offer, through the training and development of its 3300+ employees. By providing opportunities for the professional development of its staff, COI is building its pipeline of future leaders, which will be able to effectively continue to carry forth the mission of the organization: empowering people with disabilities. It is a forward thinking approach to workforce planning and talent management that is not too often found in non-profits, hence the significance of the training and development program here at Community Options, Inc.

Regional offices which have actively engaged themselves in their professional development thus far include Pittsburgh, PA; Burlington, NJ; Presents of Mind in NJ; Langhorne, PA; Allentown, PA; and Ocean County, NJ. As for the remainder of the summer, staff development trainings will take place in El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo, and San Antonio TX; Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM; Mercer County, NJ; Syracuse and Binghamton, NY. According to Diane D’Orazio, Executive Director of Ocean County, NJ, staff training has given her the chance “to see different people naturally step up in a leadership role”. This provides managers an excellent opportunity to identify high potential candidates for future job promotions. Management training in Pittsburgh, according to Bridget Haney, Executive Director in Pittsburgh, “was useful and will have a positive impact on their ability to manage their staff”. As for Maddie Lobban, Executive Director of Burlington County, NJ believes “training and development is key in providing consistent above average services to both our service recipients and our staff. It is imperative for staff to have the opportunity to learn not only a variety of topics such as team building, leadership and QA skills but also from a variety of trainers such as the National team because each trainer brings something different and innovative to the table and that is how we all learn despite our years of service to the industry.”

Community Options raises the bar in the human services sector through its commitment to developing high performing staff that create high quality programs and services.

Living a life of choice

Adrienne Atchison Living a life of choice

Adrienne Atchison – Living a life of choice

Adrienne Atchison transitioned from the Denton State Supported Living Center in April 2009 into Community Options’ Residential Support Services in Dallas, Texas.

Community Options immediately addressed many issues that Adrienne dealt with on a daily basis that kept her from living a life of choice. This provided her the opportunity to be in the community, volunteer and work. One amazing change in Adrienne’s life came with the implementation of Physical Therapy supports. When Adrienne transitioned out of the State Center into Community Options supports, she relied heavily on the use of her wheelchair. We could tell very quickly that Adrienne had the ability to walk again. Through intense Physical Therapy support with highly-trained and supportive Community Support Staff, she now is able to walk on her own. The Dallas operation helped Adrienne address several behavioral and communication issues. With these supports in place, Adrienne has thrived not only in her home, but has made tremendous strides in her community.

Adrienne expressed her desire to volunteer in the community. She started volunteering at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas in March of 2010. She worked in Admissions and made packets, rolled silverware in the kitchen and sent out mail. She also assisted the Medical Staffing department and the Volunteer Services department. She volunteered more than 1,000 hours of service at the Hospital until 2013, when other volunteer opportunities presented themselves.

She currently volunteers at the Food Bank and the Methodism Breadbasket. When she is not volunteering, she is the receptionist at our Dallas office. She answers the phones, checks the mail and makes referral packets. Adrienne has worked hard and accomplished so much in the past five years. Her will and desire to succeed is infectious and she is loved, counted on and respected by her peers, friends and co-workers.

Student Programs

Chris, a STEP Participant, working on his resume.

Chris, a STEP Participant, working on his resume.

School is right around the corner. Many of us are buying new lunch boxes, back-to-school clothes and planning for that long wait at the bus stop as we send our loved ones off to learn and socialize. It is both an exciting and challenging time for any parent. We all want the best for our son or daughter. We want them to finish school and find a great job.

As they grow up, we help them with homework and when they hit their very early teens, we push for a summer job. Some of our children work during the summer earning extra money. As they become older, some of us push our friends to find an internship.

There are both paid and unpaid internships. The most valuable aspect of an internship is the experience. Internships give students the opportunity to really learn what the world of work is all about and to sharpen skills necessary to interact with others in the workplace.

Learning, if they like the particular elements of the profession, enables the student to ascertain if they want to pursue a particular career or move in another direction.

Alexa, a STEP Participant, working at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital

Alexa, a STEP Participant, working at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital

At Community Options, we offer year-round internships to students in their final year of high school, college and graduate school. We have MSWs available to oversee those pursuing their undergraduate degree. Everyone is welcome and all encouraged to apply. Please visit our website for more information.

We also have a wonderful program called STEP, (School to Employment Program). This enables students with disabilities to pursue their profession as interns with support from our Community Options’ staff. Community Options has partnered with more than 30 local businesses to provide hands on, real world internship experiences for young adults with disabilities. Whether you want a career in physical therapy or in a law firm, in retail or in entertainment, STEP has a connection to give you the experience that will help you find the career that makes you happy. STEP has proven to be the perfect precursor to employment, having placed over 80% of its graduates into careers of their choice upon graduation.

For more information on our STEP program, please visit our website transitionschooltowork.org.

Julie R. – Parent of a STEP Participant “The STEP program has been a great way for my son to experience different working environments and develop his skills. He has been able to take on new responsibilities and achieve a greater level of independence. He is proud to be working, and we are optimistic that his experiences at STEP will open the door to additional opportunities.”

Direct Support Professionals of the Year Awards

Left to right, top to bottom; Ana Perez - New Mexico, Shantel Vernon - South Carolina, Jerusha Marshall - Kentucky, Lavine Doyle - New York, Jonathan Sikoryak - New Jersey, Beatriz Enriquez - Texas, Sherry Kilgore - Tennessee, Youtee King - Pennsylvania.

Left to right, top to bottom; Ana Perez – New Mexico, Shantel Vernon – South Carolina, Jerusha Marshall – Kentucky, Lavine Doyle – New York, Jonathan Sikoryak – New Jersey, Beatriz Enriquez – Texas, Sherry Kilgore – Tennessee, Youtee King – Pennsylvania.

Community Options is proud to recognize Direct Support Professionals for improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. For the third consecutive year, the organization requested employee nominations for the Direct Support Professional of the Year Award. One employee from each state and a national winner were chosen for this prestigious award. Pictured below are the winners for each state, and the national winner, Alex James.

Featured in photo is long time board member, Peter Dulligan, Region Vice President of TN, SC & KY, Karen Hensley and Mr. Alex James.

Featured in photo is long time board member, Peter Dulligan, Region Vice President of TN, SC & KY, Karen Hensley and Mr. Alex James.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Alex James as Community Options’ National Direct Support Professional of the Year! Mr. James is a Direct Support Professional in our Columbia, South Carolina operation and has worn many hats over the years ranging from volunteering, assisting with transitions and relocating individuals who are transitioning from institutions, and as “Master Chef” at many of the Community Options events.

Job well done Alex and thank you for being a part of the Community Options’ family!

Referrals remain trusted recruitment source

Community Options appreciates employee referrals for open positions and recognizes how valuable this recruitment source has become for our organization. Referrals account for almost 30% of our newly hired employees. This shows not only how much we rely on referrals, but is also an indication that our workforce is committed to the mission of our organization. A few of the most noteworthy employee referrals are three employees who were named “DSP of the Year” for their state, Lavine Doyle (NY), Youtee King (PA) and Jonathan Sikoryak (NJ). Referrals are also welcome and appreciated from business partners, COBAC members, family members and other professional contacts.

Once employed by the organization, Community Options staff may explore development or promotional opportunities. Since the organization is nationally based, employees may also consider exploring opportunities in other regions. One employee who ventured out of his region is Bill Wagner, who was formerly the Director of Employment in Binghamton, NY. He relocated across the country to accept his promotion as the Executive Director for the Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM locations this past April. If you are considering a new challenge, relocation or have a candidate to refer, please visit our careers site for current openings on our website. Just go to ABOUT US and select Careers With Us. www.comop.org/about-us/careers/

VALENTINE’S DAY 2.14.15

Community Options’ annual Cupid’s Chase 5K is officially slated for Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14, 2015. So before you go out on a nice romantic evening, or if you’re looking to meet that special someone, be sure to find your local Cupid’s Chase 5K!!

In 2015, we will have 29 races from NY to AZ. There are several new race locations this year: Harlem, NY, Pennsauken, NJ, Trexlertown, PA, Austin, TX and Tuscon, AZ.

All proceeds will go towards supporting people with disabilities. Community Options invites walkers, runners, joggers, and rollers (baby strollers and wheelchairs) to come out and participate. Even if you can’t join in the race, come support a great cause and have a good time doing so! www.comop.org/cupidschase

EMPLOYEE SURVEY RESULTS ARE IN!

Community Options would like to thank all employees who participated in the employee survey. We had the highest participation rate to date! We are pleased to share that 95% of employees feel they make a positive contribution to the lives of others, 90% feel their supervisor interacts with them in a professional manner and the #1 most cited word that comes to mind when thinking about CO is “Caring”. We are in the process of developing goals to address areas of improvement. Thank you for your feedback and suggestions to help make our workplace as productive and satisfying as possible.