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  • Devereux Pennsylvania Careers

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Our Devereux Heroes

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate Devereux’s commitment to its Philosophy of Care are the stories of our individuals and their journeys – and the amazing staff that support their growth, happiness and personal fulfillment.  Through hard work, patience and passion, our individuals and staff work together to common goals, inspiring hope and empowering lives along the way.

We are sharing the stories of our Devereux Heroes - our essential personnel who are working tirelessly throughout this pandemic to provide care and compassion to those we serve. While we may not be able to highlight each and every staff member, we hope these stories shine a light on those keeping us #DevereuxStrong!

 

Saree, Lynn and Lauren: Part two of our two-part feature

 

Saree noted her fellow staff are really the ones that deserve special recognition as the true Devereux heroes. We think Saree is one too!

Saree has been the recreation director for 11 years and is known for her incredible enthusiasm, endless energy and unparalleled creativity. Saree is the driving force behind many of her program’s annual events including the Community Fall Festival, the Spring Track and Field Day and the Summer Dinner Dance. Sadly, because of the pandemic, many activities were cancelled this year, with the adults staying in their community or campus based homes. Thankfully, Devereux has Saree to provide the recreational support that is needed now more than ever before.

Saree compiled a resource book for each home, providing numerous options for recreational and educational games and activities. She emptied her supply closets and distributed all of the materials, so everyone would have the necessary supplies to go with the resource books. Saree worked closely with each home to create a flexible daily schedule that would maintain the important structure, but also provide opportunities for the individuals to choose fun and enjoyable activities. These included art and cooking projects, recreational activities, crossword puzzles, musical activities, and exercise and movement classes.

Saree recently learned that the residents of one home wanted to have a fancy social experience. She helped her colleagues find four lovely spring cocktail dresses, along with the perfect accessories and make-up. Dinner consisted of the women’s favorite foods and they had a dance party in their own living room until late into the night. Everyone had a wonderful and memorable time at the Pandemic Prom!

Never one to toot her own horn, Saree noted her fellow staff are really the ones that deserve special recognition as the true Devereux heroes. We think Saree is one too!

 

Lynn and Lauren recently launched a wonderful endeavor with the children called The Rainbow Heart Campaign.

Lynn and Lauren work tirelessly each day with children who have intellectual and development disabilities. Both are very accomplished recreation directors who bring a wealth of experience and talent to their work every day at Devereux.

Similar to their colleagues, Lynn and Lauren created marvelous resource activities to support the many wonderful direct care staff with programming materials and ideas. Since the residential staff and the managers of their programs have been responsible for so much since the beginning of the pandemic, Lynn and Lauren were hopeful that their recommended activities would alleviate some of their daily stresses. Their goal was to provide new ideas throughout the day to keep the children engaged in a structured, educational and fun way. Some of the activities included coloring contests, recipes and supplies, healthy snack preparation options, mindfulness activities, and arts and crafts to decorate the homes for spring and summer.

Lynn and Lauren recently launched a wonderful endeavor with the children called The Rainbow Heart Campaign. This project highlights the important theme of “We are all in this together.” They described it as a campaign of hope and admiration for everyone at their Devereux program coping with the challenges and changes wrought by the pandemic.  Each heart represents someone who has successfully adapted to the new normal. A child shares their success story and adds their handmade heart to the expanding “rainbow of hope.” 

They are also working on a community garden with the children. Once more soil is delivered, everyone will work together in a bucket brigade to fill the raised beds. This has been an activity enjoyed by all each year. Lauren and some of the children have even grown seedlings to be transplanted to the garden bed soon. After everything is planted, they hope to have a small garden party next month. We salute Lynn and Lauren for their tremendous dedication to Devereux!

 


 

Debra and Briana: Part one of a two-part feature

One of the hardest challenges for us all right now is staying at home and not being able to enjoy the activities that provide joy to our lives. The children and adults at Devereux also feel this loss, as they too miss the many community activities that enrich their lives. Their jobs have temporarily closed, their bowling leagues are quiet, their favorite movie theaters and stores are closed, and they are not able to cheer on their favorite sports teams. All at Devereux are going above and beyond to provide comfort and support during this demanding time. There is one unique group of “heroes” tirelessly directing the essential therapeutic, educational and recreational programming to provide structure throughout the day.

 

Debra has assisted the in-home heroes in creating a daily schedule that incorporates important goals.

Debra is an experienced activities coordinator working with adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Devereux’s community-based group homes. One of her biggest challenges now is providing the best programming given the varied abilities and interests among the individuals in each home. Debra has assisted the in-home heroes in creating a daily schedule that incorporates important goals for each adult to foster independence and improve communication skills. Along with energetic dancing to exercise videos and playing bocce ball or golf in the yard, Debra has encouraged our individuals to take an even bigger role in helping the staff with the many daily household chores like cooking their favorite meals.

As social distancing guidelines have continued, Debra has become even more creative, recently coordinating a front porch concert. The adults voted on a song and – at the same time on a specified day – everyone from the different homes sat on their porches to sing a rousing rendition of “Stand by Me.” The videos were edited into a montage and sent to those we serve and their families. Debra shared everyone had a great time and felt a wonderful sense of unity and connectedness.

 

Briana even created a Life Skills Room to help the girls improve their comfort level with everyday tasks.

Briana has been with Devereux for just a few years and her wonderful enthusiasm and passion are immediately apparent. She is a certified recreational therapist working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges.  A typical day for these children would include school during the day, a few fun and therapeutic activities in the evening and perhaps family visits on the weekend. Current social distancing efforts require Briana and her Devereux colleagues to work closely together to find unique solutions for these unusual times. One of Briana’s biggest challenges is trying to find new and different activities to keep everyone interested and engaged and, as anyone who has ever raised a teenager knows, this is not an easy job!  

Daily activities include walks around the campus, dance contests, scavenger hunt bingo, visits to the Point Store for sweet treats and time reading books or viewing movies. Briana recently exclaimed, “Thank goodness this particular group of girls really loves to read!” She has developed a large resource binder for each residence that contains hundreds of games, arts & crafts, and word/journal ideas. She even created a Life Skills Room to help the girls improve their comfort level with everyday tasks like cooking, laundry, and house cleaning. Briana shared “We are so grateful for the generous gifts we’ve received from the Amazon wish list. These children still get to enjoy being a teenager, even as they bravely face these tremendous internal and external challenges in their young lives.”

We salute both Debra and Briana for their incredible creativity and dedication and for being two of our many Devereux heroes!

 


 

John 

 

John’s greatest wish is that the children at Devereux, who have experienced so much trauma in their young lives, somehow understand how much he and the staff at Devereux care for them.

You can often hear John long before you see him, arriving to work each morning, well before 7:00 am, wearing a wide smile and singing loudly (and maybe a bit off key). There has never been a time when Devereux has needed John more - with his big heart and wonderful funny songs - than we do now, during these uncertain times.

For over eight years, John has worked closely with some of our most challenging children at Devereux. He is described as being incredibly kind and patient, always willing to stop whatever he is doing to provide comfort and support, while also teaching coping skills. His calm expertise and compassion is ideally suited to this unusual time.

John is always the first to volunteer for any new challenge. When asked about why he so eagerly volunteers, he replied simply: “I don’t see how I can ask the staff I supervise to do the tough jobs if I am not right there alongside them. It’s really quite simple, a leader leads.” Due to the outstanding example he sets, John finds there is no shortage of Devereux staff willing to join him each and every day.

Throughout each day, other staff call on John for his advice on children who are experiencing severe behavioral problems. John’s calm expertise and compassion is ideal to help these distressed children. He will take whatever time is needed to fully listen to their concerns, while walking outside for fresh air, throwing a football, or just sitting and sharing some of his soothing music. John’s greatest wish is that the children at Devereux, who have experienced so much trauma in their young lives, somehow understand how much he and the staff at Devereux care for them. He shared, “Hopefully, they all know how hard we are trying to keep them safe and protected for as long as they are with us at Devereux.”

John is one of the many heroes keeping us #DevereuxStrong! Thank you to John and all of our essential workers for your extraordinary efforts!

 


 

Anne D. 

 

Anne will be the first to tell you that she could not do this without the incredible support of her classroom team.

Anne has been teaching at Devereux for five years and, when you meet her, you are struck by her welcoming smile, along with her contagious enthusiasm and energy. During a typical school day, you would hear the joy, laughter and occasional frustration, as each of her students works hard at their assigned tasks. Her bright, warm classroom is filled with encouraging posters and usually buzzes with activity. 

That classroom is quiet now, as the pandemic has caused our school buildings to close. Anne and our Devereux teachers have not missed a beat, using expertise, creativity and remarkable dedication to provide vital remote instruction to each student. She led the way in using Google Classroom and Zoom sessions. Anne has created interactive Google slides for her daily hour-long individual teaching sessions with each student and their parent. She is also developing and providing numerous enrichment activities including art, music and even a physical education class.  

Though shifting to virtual education has been difficult for many teachers across the country, the challenges have been particularly unique for the educational heroes who teach children with moderate to severe autism. Several of Anne’s students are non-verbal and all of them require very complex, repetitive, hands-on instruction…something that is not easy to accomplish via computer.  Anne recently shared that she feels that her greatest strength is her creativity and her unwavering belief in each of her student’s abilities: “There is something so beautiful about a child with autism. They are so purely themselves, embracing their uniqueness and their abilities. How fortunate am I to be able to work with these remarkable children every day at Devereux?” 

Anne will be the first to tell you that she could not do this without the incredible support of her classroom team. They remain in contact through virtual weekly planning meetings.  Her leadership ensures that each team member provides the appropriate therapy sessions and behavioral supports to the families.   

Several of Anne’s families expressed their profound gratitude. One mother recently shared, “Anne makes herself available anytime for her students and supports the parents to help the children succeed. My son has come so far in a short amount of time, even with all the teaching now being done at home. This is due to the AMAZING TEAM at Devereux that continues to surround him with caring, love, lessons and understanding! Anne and her remarkable team at Devereux saved our son and brought him back to us. Anne is the best example of a truly remarkable human being!” 

Support our Devereux Heroes!