They get up every day and go to work to support our people in a million different ways, but always with the intention to do their best to ensure that each will reach their goals and gain even a small measure of independence that day.
And, if they aren’t in a position to provide direct support, they support those who do. Together, we are the team that makes our mission such a great success.
Without them there would be no ReHab Center, no home and day services for Billy Jo or the many others who attend Day Hab, Community Hab, LifeSkills, the Youth Residence, 18 residencies, supportive apartments, seniors in the Linwood Center, Medicaid support services SubCon Industries, InTandem Solutions, Employment Connection, and the young and old throughout the community who need and receive our support.
As one of the largest employers in Olean, without each of our 484 staff members, the economic, social and cultural quality of the area would not be as significant or profound.
The Rehab Center thanks all our staff for making us an awesome, flourishing place, creating beautiful lives for many who might never have found the enrichment and means to greater independence the Agency offers them.
The following individuals were named by their supervisors and managers for their exceptional service and commitment. But, that equally applies to each of our fantastic, caring staff.
DSP listens to an endearing residence
As the son of a minister, Dan Tennies brings a deep compassion to the 12 people he supports as a Direct Support Professional at Buffalo Road IRA. But, he speaks it in the language of his contemporary youth culture with a surprising sensitivity.
As he reaches to support one of the residents at the breakfast table, an intricately designed tattoo on his upper arm reveals his appreciation of angels and the Blessed Mother. Despite a tough exterior, the long-haired, metal-loving DSP says he’s found what he’d been looking for since graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Journalism.
“This is a job worth doing,” he said. “I floated around a bit after college because I wanted to do something meaningful.”
Dan has been at Buffalo Road less than a year, but has already established warm relationships with the people there.
“I’m not a people-person,” he said, admitting why he chose not to pursue a career in journalism, “but I love interacting with the people here. It amazes me how much I love this.”
As most of the ReHabilitation Center’s DSPs, Dan gives credit to the people themselves with whom he enjoys a comfort level for his own job satisfaction and success.
“It’s so easy to relate to the people,” he said. “It’s them. They’re easy to be with.”
Mornings at Buffalo Road are hectic. Getting the people up, dressed, fed breakfast and off to their respective day programs doesn’t faze Dan who is finishing up his overnight shift.
“I fly in the morning. It can get crazy here,” he said, moving quickly as he delivers an item from the fridge to the table anticipating a resident’s need. “I know what they need before they say it.”
As a woman wheeled up to Dan, he stopped to chat with her bringing a smile to her face.
“She said she knew Labor Day had been Jerry Lewis’ telethon,” he said, as she smiled up at him. “I listen and they feel heard. It’s that simple.”
Despite the busy pace of the morning, Dan’s ability to multi task comes naturally and keeps the momentum of the morning upbeat and positively charged.
“I’m running a lot but am also laughing and joking with the people,” he said, collecting a couple dishes from the table and putting them in the sink.
“It’s very hands on. I’m happy when I’m here. When I step into this house, everything else just fades away and I forget everything except the people. They are so grateful and friendly.”
And, it’s apparent. From the cleanliness of the house to the happy atmosphere in it there is a healthy balance of mutual respect and appreciation among the residents who enjoy Dan’s friendly demeanor as much as he enjoys theirs.
Role model of compassion
Tim Harvey’s success as a mentor was won with the same attitude that has defined his career at the ReHab Center for the past 31 years. Simply, he takes personal responsibility for his work and the work of his team. He leads by example.
He began as a worker at SubCon Industries in 1985. When a Direct Support Professional position opened up at Garden Avenue, he bid on it. He worked there – first on overnights, then on days – for seven years. He was promoted to a higher DSP level at another house which is now closed until finally going to Henley Street where he’s worked for 17 years.
“I’m happy I fit in where I did,” he said, adding at one point in his career he served a stint as an assistant manager but preferred being a mentor.
“Being an assistant manager wasn’t my calling. Being a mentor really suits me. It’s like coaching.”
Role modeling may be the best form of coaching for Tim.
“My main way of coaching is to be a role model – do my job and do it the best I can so they can see,” he said, adding “you can tell someone ten times how to do something but they may not get it until you show them. Then, they learn.”
While today, as a mentor, Tim is actively engaged ensuring the six people he supports on Henley Street work on their goals as they take steps toward greater independence, he’s also mentoring new DSPs to succeed on their professional goals as well.
“I feel a responsibility to make sure that the people who come in have the knowledge to mix well with the veteran staff that’s there,” he said.
And, that’s only part of it.
Tim had just begun working for the ReHab Center when his first daughter was born. A year later, a second daughter. Throughout the years raising his youngsters, he was also building a family in the residences. He was
Throughout the years raising his youngsters, he was also building a family in the residences. He was father to his family almost as much as to the people in the residences.
Both of his daughters are now successful opera singers. The eldest tours internationally and the other performs with the Cincinnati Opera. As young children, they often visited the residence where Tim worked, and the residents enjoyed watching them grow.
There was a synergistic relationship among both Tim’s families. As his daughters grew up and their music careers took them away from home, Tim found himself giving more attention to the residence.
“They became more of a family to me after the girls moved away,” he said, adding the years have strengthened the bonds among himself and the residents, some of whom he has known for more than 20 years.
“You go in and they’re happy to see you. If they see you out in the community, they’ll holler down an aisle in the store to you,” he said. “They want to share their lives with you. It makes me feel good and feel needed. It sounds cliché but it’s not. It’s so true.”
As a mentor, Tim equally shares with the new staff his compassion for the residents.
“I ask them, ‘What if they were your mom, your dad, your daughter?” he said, wincing. “But, when a new DSP comes on board, they might not have that perspective yet.
“They might complain about the hours or what they have to do,” he said, smiling.
“But, over time, I see them change in their caring and empathy. The change is gradual and they might not see it themselves. Slowly, they begin to feel the same way for the people. They begin to feel they are family.”
Theresa Abdo, Community Prevocational trainer
Theresa Abdo has worked for the Agency for 18 years. Since 2014, she has worked for the Employment Connection’s Pathways as a trainer in its prevocational training program. She offers coaching and guidance to the people who are reaching for greater independence in order to move into employment in the community.
“Theresa’s people skills and positive attitude, her ability to manage situations calmly, her flexibility and openness to new ideas, and her dedication to the people and her work are a huge contribution to the program’s success,” Nancy Miller, Director of Vocational Services, said.
Through her kind, yet direct, coaching, people in the prevocational program, many of whom are still working for SubCon Industries, learn skills that will enable them to enter the job market. She helps them identify what they especially like at the job as they consider future jobs.
Every day she takes a small group of individuals to volunteer at local non-profits such as Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, St. Bonaventure, Washington West Elementary School or Olean General Hospital.
“At each of these sites she provides the perfect balance of support and guidance as each of the people learn different tasks including inputting data in a library computer, sorting and packaging food items, providing customer support, or cleaning up after a basketball game.
“Our relationships with the sites are excellent due to her efforts. Theresa is a role model for other employees as we move into more community-based services!” Nancy said.
Nancy Ogden, Supervisor of Linwood Center
Nancy is supervisor of the Linwood Center which is the Agency’s senior community center. She began her career with the Agency close to 27 years ago working at the Children’s Intermediate Care Facility on Fall Road.
Then, from 2000 to 2003, she was a Direct Support Professional at Osgood residence. In 2003 she accepted a position as a day care assistant at the Linwood Center, then managed by Cattaraugus County and operated in the former Allegany High School.
Eight years later, the Linwood Center merged with the ReHab Center and Nancy found herself back at the ReHab Center.
A couple years ago, Nancy became supervisor. Today, she continues to work tirelessly for a group of seniors she loves and cares for by developing engaging programs.
“It’s always something different everyday,” she said, “It’s the hugs, the smiles.”
She has been married for 20 years, has three children and a nine-month-old grandson.