Beth Jermain and Karen Williamson have received The Resource Center’s top employee honors for 2018.
Jermain, The Resource Center’s support option administrator, received the Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award for the positive difference she has made in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, not only in 2018 but throughout her 30-year career at TRC. She is committed to assisting people with disabilities to attain their ideal lives.
Jermain was nominated for the award by Terri Johnson, TRC’s director of employment and community-based services.
“Beth truly listens to what people have to say and helps them to achieve their goals. Whenever anyone puts up barriers, she does whatever she can to help the person jump over the barriers,” Johnson said. “She spends not only her entire work day but also her evenings and weekends to enhance the independence and integration of people with disabilities. She is a lifelong learner who strives to not only push herself and the people she has supported, but the entire TRC staff. She takes the time to educate people on the agency’s core belief of person-centered thinking.”
Johnson said Jermain is passionate about helping people achieve greater independence and will do what she can to help them succeed. “Even as her roles have changed over the years, Beth continues to give TRC and the people she supports her time and attention. Beth has supported people even after services ended and continues to be a support to many,” Johnson said.
She noted that during the past year, Jermain has been asked to help lead an initiative to work with local businesses to identify employees who need assistance in order to maintain successful employment, and that Jermain “dove in feet first and is giving it her all and continuing to learn things along the way.”
Jermain is grateful for her long career at TRC and for having opportunities to assist people with disabilities.
“I have always been thankful for and cherished the many opportunities I have been given to support people to obtain some of their life goals, in pursuit of the enriched life that they are yearning and striving for,” she said. “It has been an honor to have them trust me, depend on me and allow me to assist them to overcome and/or manage the challenges they are facing. It is very exciting to be a trusted partner in their journey.
“I am also very appreciative of TRC for helping me reveal my strengths, find my passions and put them to good use in carrying out the agency’s mission. My strengths have always been nurtured, and I have always been trusted and given the autonomy I need to do my best.”
The Employee of the Year Award is named in honor of Joe Trusso, a former Chautauqua County legislator who served on TRC’s board of directors for 38 years. Trusso died last year, so two of his relatives who happen to work for The Resource Center – niece Resa Rosen-Murray and daughter-in-law Donna Trusso – were on hand to reminisce about Trusso and to help present the award to Jermain during TRC’s 34th annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon.
The Resource Center’s other major employee honor is the Norma J. Smith Award. It is presented to a non-supervisory staff member who has excelled in providing direct support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The award was given to Williamson, who has worked for TRC since 1989 and is a direct support professional lead at the day habilitation program on Fluvanna Avenue in Jamestown.
“Karen leads her team with excellence and is truly dedicated to improving the lives of those who receive services from us,” said her supervisor, Autumn Wilson. “Karen has the ability to look at the big picture and see possibilities instead of barriers. Her experience has given her wisdom to know that things don’t always improve overnight, but with diligence and caring the possibilities are endless.”
Wilson said that the efforts of Williamson and her team have led to a number of successful outcomes. She cited the experiences of two people in the day program who have gone from being withdrawn and occasionally aggressive, to now enjoying happy lives.
“Karen believes that all people should be treated equally and that any dream can be achieved with the right supports,” Wilson said. “Her positivity and obvious caring are credit to for the success of these individuals to be able to make friends and enjoy new experiences. Karen is a perfect example of a direct support professional who is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for persons receiving services from The Resource Center.”
The award was created in memory of the late Norma Smith, who worked as a direct support professional at The Resource Center from 1983 to 1991.