Jennifer Herron and Robin Kestler have received The Resource Center’s top employee honors for 2019. The awards were presented during TRC’s annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon, held recently at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron.
Jen, a Life Coach for people with disabilities who has worked at TRC for 18 years, received the Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award. She was honored for her efforts on behalf of two people who faced significant challenges last year. In one case, Jen assisted a woman who was living on her own when medical complications made it difficult for her to stay healthy. Jen suggested a shared living situation and then supported the woman to make it happen. This included helping to organize a household sale, being available by phone to provide the emotional support needed to get through the transition, and helping the woman move. Thanks to Jen’s support, the person was able to continue living in the community while maintaining her health.
The second example involved a person who became pregnant. During most of the pregnancy, Jen was the woman’s only support staff. One of the most important aspects of this situation was ensuring that the necessary pre-natal care and monitoring was provided. Jen helped the woman schedule her medical appointments and transported the woman to and from those appointments. Thanks to Jen’s involvement, the woman gave birth to a healthy baby.
“Jen does all this behind the scenes, and never talks about the great things she does,” said Mark Morton, TRC’s Assistant Executive Director for Employee Relations. “The work that she did this year is worthy of this award.”
The Employee of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Joe Trusso, a former Chautauqua County legislator who served on The Resource Center’s board of directors for 38 years.
Click here to watch a video of Jen.
TRC’s other major employee honor is the Norma J. Smith Award. It is presented to a staff member who has excelled in providing direct support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 2019 award was given to Robin, who has worked at TRC for 24 years. She was honored for her efforts in her role as the leader of a Day Habilitation Program room at the Michael J. Raymond Center on Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown.
The projects Robin leads or has involvement with are many — the Pickers Club, assisting people at MJRC in gardening, organizing an annual Craft Bazaar, assisting the Future Strivers in making puppets and putting on a puppet production for the people who attend our Senior Adult Day Habilitation program, and many more. In addition, for many years Robin has overseen the creation of the awards given to participants at the Laurel Memorial Run & Walk, and organized the kickoff breakfast before the Laurel Run flag relay.
In the community, Robin puts forth extra time and effort so TRC self-advocates can be part of the annual “GROW Jamestown Garden Fair & Home Show.” The popular event enables area residents to see and learn about the fabulous things made by people with disabilities in the Pickers Club and our Creations Art Program. The event offers a great opportunity for community integration, and it is awesome to watch Robin, her co-workers and the people we support shine.
“Robin is described as a courageous, kind and living person,” Mark said. “She brings many gifts on a daily basis to each and every person she comes in contact with.”
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.
Click here to watch a video of Robin.
Patricia Perlee, the President of TRC’s Board of Directors, congratulated Jen and Robin. “Your stories and your actions have inspired us,” she said.
Click here to listen to a radio show that recaps the Employee Services Recognition Luncheon.