On Wednesday, about 230 members of the organization came together to recognize the staff that turns this goal into reality through programs including Head Start, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, mental health services, and community rehabilitation among others.
“When I was a young child I lived in a rough situation, and I was getting some help through the children’s services,” said UCS client Celine Blair in her welcoming remarks. “My workers were my anchors during this point in my life, and they were very helpful. They helped me to achieve my personal goals when I thought it would be impossible.”
For individuals facing a tough time in their lives, the multiple organizations within UCS can provide the type of support that may prove transformative.
“When I turned 18, I decided that I wanted to start working on my own as a personal goal. I talked to members of my team and they helped me,” said Blair. “Now, thanks to UCS I can pursue my hopes for the future. I am going to attend Southern Vermont College in the fall, and hope to be able to get a job soon. Someday, I’ll be ready to go out and get my own apartment.”
This years celebration, held in the Parish Hall at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales church in Bennington, was the culmination of a year of change.
“We know that change is inevitable, and yet so many of us resist it or find it uncomfortable. Some of us, however, find energy in it, enjoy the challenge in it, and embrace it,” said Lorna Mattern, who became the executive director of UCS this past October. “I am so grateful to stand here today with all of you, knowing that our staff has embraced these changes.”
Included in those changes is the introduction of open `town hall’ meetings for the many branches of the organization, new school-based clinical contracts, an alliance with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to provide psychiatric consultations, expanded programs in the Northshire, and more.
“There were significant leadership changes over the year here at UCS,” said Mattern. “These changes represent new strategies in how we serve our clients, challenging the way that we always used to do things, and having a new commitment to open communication with our staff.”
The celebration is part of a larger staff appreciation week at UCS, through which employees are recognized for both their achievements in, and contributions to, the organization and the larger community.
“This is my first event as Executive Director, and I think it went well,” said Mattern, who was worked with UCS for over 25 years. “I think the staff were really appreciative of all being invited and being connected with each other. I just feel really lucky to be a part of this great group of people.”
Following opening remarks from Mattern and President of the Board Robert Thompson, multiple awards were presented to employees including the Harold “Archie” C. Warner Memorial Award, the UCS Quality Team Award, Staff Service Awards, the Gerrit Kouwenhoven Staff Development Award, UCS Excellence Awards, the Cleveland and Phyllis Dodge Community Service Award, and the Peter D. Scully Award. Employees were also recognized for licensures, certifications, and college degrees earned in the past year.
In an event celebrating a year of change, it is fitting that the celebration itself represented an evolution of the organization.
“We used to just have the folks that were celebrating come, and we just thought it was so important for us to have everybody in the room together to be able to celebrate each other and to support each other,” said Mattern. “It’s a great group of people, and we know we’re strongest together.”
Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471