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Devereux - News Release Dec. 8, 2010

Devereux Celebrates the Holidays by Recognizing Employees Who Support Special Needs Families All Year

VILLANOVA, December 8, 2010 - Difficulty with communication. Unpredictable behavior. Families under stress. Caring for children and adults with behavioral and intellectual disabilities is one of the most challenging - and important jobs one can do. Devereux, the nation’s leading non-profit provider of behavioral healthcare for nearly 100 years, is celebrating the holidays by recognizing 15 staff members at locations across the country, who deliver exceptional care under sometimes trying circumstances. The "Culture of Caring" Awards recognize professionals who help individuals reach their potential and bring families together with renewed hope.

One honoree, Brian Wood of Bear, DE, who works for Devereux Pennsylvania on their campus in Brandywine, doesn’t save his holiday cheer for December. Commonly referred to as Santa Claus, Wood got his nickname by providing the kids at his center with clothes, shoes, and other essentials. He started doing this when he realized that he was the only one that could. Many students don’t have parents or guardians to take care of them, so Wood does.

Growing up in a single family home, Wood can relate to his students and tries to teach them that it’s their choices that matter. "I had the same struggles and chose the path that led me to college, graduate school, and eventually Devereux," said Wood. "That’s what I want them to know, that they have that same potential."

"Since the day almost 100 years ago that our Founder Helena Devereux declared that "every child is a project" and that every individual has the capability to learn and develop his or her unique abilities, Devereux has supported this culture of caring," said Robert Q. Krieder, CEO of Devereux.

"Whether delivering residential care or outpatient services, our staff holds to this vision and these award recipients are among those leading the way. We applaud their commitment and the level of care they provide every day. In many instances, they are viewed as extensions of the client's family."

The Thomas F. Donovan Culture of Caring Award was founded in 2002 to honor direct care staff members who consistently combine caring with exceptional treatment. The award was established in honor of Devereux Trustee Thomas F. Donovan, who was elected in 1989 and still serves on the board today.

The recipients of the 2010 Culture of Caring Award include:

Amy Bartlett of Phoenix, AZ, Devereux Arizona, works with adolescents who have emotional challenges. Bartlett began at Devereux in April 2004, and is described by co-workers as consistent and accomplished, with a thoughtful and serene demeanor that works well with patients.

Chris Niro of Lompoc, CA, Devereux California, was recognized for outstanding work in the Adult Day Program. She works with participants in a therapeutic greenhouse program to help build their confidence and develop social skills.

Lorna Simac of Westminster, CO, Devereux Colorado Cleo Wallace, is the Senior Mental Health Worker. Simae is passionate about training her staff and working with clients. She spends weekends volunteering additional hours to increase community support and plan fundraising events.

Jennifer Wilson of Torrington, CT, Devereux Connecticut Glenholme, has worked with her students to transform ordinary walls into a canvas with her art classes’ murals. With encouragement and support, she helps build students’ self-esteem, take risks, and foster new interests that allow them to connect with others.

Margaret Farley of Melbourne, FL, Devereux Florida, works in the Children’s Unit with at-risk students. She goes above and beyond the parameters of her job by cooking special breakfasts on the weekends, developing a basketball camp, and organizing trips to local sporting events.

Brenda Cameron of Marietta, GA, Devereux Georgia, works as a direct care professional in the Georgia Treatment Network. Cameron is an inspirational leader who motivates co-workers and clients to reach for a higher standard. She embraces and implements change to develop ever-improving programming.

Becky Ward of South Barre, MA, Devereux Massachusetts, is a morning supervisor in the Pervasive Developmental Disorders program and a classroom aide. She integrates structure, support, and high standards which allow her students to thrive.

Robert T. Clark of Mantua, NJ, Devereux New Jersey, was recently promoted to program supervisor. He works tirelessly to ensure consumers feel accepted, equal, and integrated into their community. His strength of character and infectious energy inspire both his co-workers and clients.

Jeff Underhill of Hudson, NY, Devereux New York, is a direct support professional in the IRA Community Program. His patient and professional manner have a calming effect which allows clients to reach new levels of success. His honesty, compassion, and integrity are respected among co-workers.

Brian Wood of Bear, DE, Devereux Pennsylvania, works within the Children’s Behavioral Health Division. Affectionately known as Santa Claus, Wood brings cheer and spirit to the program year-round. He provides a home for the children in care by giving them a safe place to vent, problem-solve, and laugh.

Alex Kimani of Downingtown, PA, Devereux Pennsylvania, works within the Adult Services Division. He provides positive and proactive solutions for the community and works to implement them for the benefit of the program. Clients and co-workers all benefit from Kimani’s thoughtful actions and great regard for others.

Laura Risley of Chadds Ford, PA, Devereux Pennsylvania, works within the Community Services Division as a special education teacher. She has an ability to motivate students to become active learners through the engaging lessons she creates for her varied students. She goes beyond the classroom, providing consultative home visits, help with doctors appointments, and at-home visual supports.

Scott Groom of Lancaster, PA, Devereux Pennsylvania, works within the Children’s I/DD Services Division as the lead staff member. Known to his consumers as "the hiker", Groom often plans activities that allow passive individuals to become active.

Rowan Thomas of Tobyhanna, PA, Devereux Pennsylvania, works within the Pocono Division. Thomas exhibits a determination to help each individual in his charge to become more independent. His dedication has helped many lead a more productive and fulfilling life.

Yolanda Johnson of Victoria, TX, Devereux Texas, is a unit manager for all male pre-teen and teen residential clients. She also oversees the operation of the children’s preschool. Johnson works within all departments to ensure the highest level of care and dedication.

About Devereux
Devereux is a leading national nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, behavioral disorders and mental illness. Founded in 1912 by Philadelphia schoolteacher Helena Trafford Devereux, the Devereux Philosophy of Care focuses on bringing out the strengths of each individual through research-based assessment and treatment programs. Devereux employs 6,000 staff and operates 15 centers in 11 states, providing both residential and community-based services to more than 15,000 children and adults annually. For more information, visit


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