By the time I was in elementary school I had learned many conflicting beliefs about work. First, I learned that the best job was a vocation, a religious vocation that is. I went to Catholic school and thought, the best job was to be a priest or a nun. Next, I decided on another ranking system for the best job. Jobs where employees wore uniforms were more important than those jobs where the employees didn’t wear uniforms. After that, I concluded jobs where you kept clean and neat all day were much more important that those where you got your hands dirty. Following that, yet another revelation, when I found out some jobs were just for people with disabilities who were simultaneously made fun of as they performed those jobs.
How does a kid take in and make sense of all that? I was fortunate to have my Dad to help with that. He told me, regardless of what you did; it was your dedication to doing your best that mattered most. He told me all jobs were worth doing well. That was a pivotal point for me, a point where I decided I would try to be myself whatever that might be and that it was OK to explore a variety of options.
As an adult it did one more thing for me, it helped me see and have an appreciation for all work, all employees, all the hours and conditions of work, and all the skills and abilities needed for work. I am so blessed to work in an organization and to help that organization do all those things as well.
This past Wednesday, we had the most amazing staff recognition event. Since I have been in the field, starting in the late 1970s, working for large, diverse provider organizations, I have never before seen this many people attend an event of this kind. There were 400 people there! We celebrated each other, all the work we do. We gave awards to people all throughout the company and across a wide range of jobs. We will publish more about them but here is our lineup for this year.
Awards which reflect our 5 core values were given. All across the company in our departments, winners were chosen who reflect one of these values. Those individuals were then nominated for the top award at KenCrest. Here are the categories and the top winners in each category;
P: Positive approaches at work: Empowering people through praise; Creating a positive environment; Establishing respect; Supporting others; Maintaining a positive attitude during challenging situations; Building each person’s unique gifts. This year the award was won by Clifford Wrobeh from Chester County Community Living.
R: Reaching higher: Stretching beyond current ideas; Showing ingenuity; Searching for alternatives; Embracing change; Developing new solutions to problems. This year the award was won by Kristy Scribner.I: Inclusion: Fostering a sense of community in the workplace; Inspiring team effort; Assuring that the people we support are included; Assuring that families, friends, and community members are included. This year the award was won by Jamie Wyatt from Birth-to-Five in Bucks County.
D: Discovery: Working to get to the heart of a challenge; Determining the root cause of a problem; Fostering collaboration; Learning from others how they have approached a problem; Loving to learn. This year the award was won by Marcia Berner, in Development.
E: Excellence in leadership: Demonstrating leadership in the job regardless of position or job title; Motivating others to achieve goals; Taking on leadership roles; Inspiring shared vision; Challenging the status quo; Serving as a role model. This year the award was won by Donna Ruley, from our executive office.
Our special awards this year and their winners;
William J. Nolan Advocacy Award: created by the board and funded by donation, this award recognizes the achievement of a staff member who advocated for the community, the clients and their families. This year the award was won by Rosaida Benitez, the director of our early learning center in South Philadelphia.
Siebott-Hibbard Award: this award was created in memory of Marilyn Siebott and Rod Hibbard, two beloved leaders at KenCrest who championed staff support, achievement and career development. This year the award was won by Gale Leonard, the assistant director of our LifeSharing program.
Sister Grace Award: our highest award was created in memory of Sister Grace Jones, the longest tenured executive director who did not take “No” for an answer when it came to dedication and service. This year the award was won by Toni McNeal, our CFO. It was the first time in our history that someone won the Sister Grace award who worked behind the scenes.
The energy in the room at the event was awesome to experience. Our theme was the “Kennys” a take on the Oscars or the Emmy awards, red carpets, photos as you enter. And a few of us rooted around in the closet for our fancy prom or wedding attire.
If you are one of our staff and you couldn’t make it, thanks for all that you do every day. Maybe you can join us at next years, “Kennys”.
If you do some other job in the world, on behalf of the lives you support, thank you!
If you are in our field and working elsewhere, move to KenCrest and be part of a place that celebrates all work, all jobs and all people!