Public health emergencies, like COVID-19 (Coronavirus), can be stressful and challenging for families and communities. At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, we believe it is important to promote positivity and a sense of calm as we navigate these unprecedented times together. One way we are doing this is by finding inspiration amid the uncertainty.
We invite you to look below for videos, and excerpts from letters and emails, offering messages of hope, kindness and resilience from Devereux’s families, caregivers, employees and supporters as we strive to emerge safer, stronger and healthier than ever before. Please note we are withholding last names for privacy purposes.
Look below to see what we are hearing from Devereux family members, caregivers and employees.
Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) center recently hosted “Compassion Week” to remind team members about the importance of always treating their colleagues, the individuals and families they serve - and themselves - with compassion. The theme of the week was, “Compassion starts here.”
Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia Foster Care Program Supervisor Ursula Yau recently shared a story of a case coordinator who tirelessly advocated to get a foster child the services she needed to grow and flourish. Look below to read her story of kindness and hope.
“Case Coordinator Barisha Dill works with a special population within Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS’ Philadelphia foster care program - youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities who need individualized attention. Most of these youth are nonverbal, and will need support for the rest of their lives.
- Ursula Yau, Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS program supervisor
Recently, Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island Executive Director Kerry Ann Goldsmith, M.A., shared a story of team members who led by example, providing support and encouragement to a young man in need. Look below to read her story of compassion.
“We had a young man enroll as a day student at our Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island center. The individual, who has autism, began showing an increase in challenging behaviors at home and in the community, which led to more than 15 visits to the emergency room in the past year.
Unfortunately, the student’s grandparents were in failing health, and many of the responsibilities in the home had fallen to him. He asked various providers for additional support; however, state agencies struggled to identify who was responsible for his services, given that he was of transition age.
Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s treatment team stepped in to advocate for the student - to get him the services he desperately needed. After several months, he was enrolled with us as a residential student and is now thriving!”
- Kerry Ann Goldsmith, Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island executive director
In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month - Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 - students at Devereux Texas’ League City campus wrote research papers on prominent individuals of Hispanic and Latino descent, including comedian, actor and filmmaker Cantinflas; baseball player Roberto Clemente; and singer-songwriter Selena.
Students also created Amate style artwork, which is a traditional Latin American type of artwork that depicts flowers, birds and animals using brown paper and acrylic paint. And, they painted pots using a technique called hydro painting, where paint resting on the surface of water is then transferred onto an object through dipping.
“Our students really enjoyed learning about, and expressing, their Hispanic and Latino history and culture,” said Devereux Texas Executive Director Pam Reed. “This also provided a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain hands-on experience with different art mediums and techniques. The artwork they created was beautiful and inspiring, and they had fun throughout the entire process.”
Look below to view photos from Devereux Texas’ Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
Recently, Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia Foster Care Program Supervisor Ursula Yau shared a story of a case coordinator who went above and beyond to support a foster child through life’s ups and downs. Look below to read her inspiring story.
"A child, J., was placed in one of Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS’ Philadelphia foster homes when he was just 3 years old. His parents were both addicted to drugs and alcohol. J. wanted a relationship with his biological parents, but his parents’ addiction often prevented them from having consistent visits and communication.
- Ursula Yau, Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS program supervisor
A youth who recently completed specialized behavioral health treatment at Devereux Florida reached out to team members to thank them for helping her acquire the skills needed to successfully cope with life’s challenges. Look below to read her letter of gratitude.
"You have no idea how much I learned from being at Devereux. Every day, I think about all the things you guys taught me, all of my coping skills, I’m using all of that. You have no idea.”
- Former Devereux Florida individual
At Devereux, our direct support professionals (DSPs) go above and beyond to serve and support the children, adolescents and adults in their care. During Direct Support Professional Recognition Week - Sept. 12-18 - team members across the country thanked their colleagues for making a meaningful and positive difference every day.
At Devereux Georgia, DSPs were treated to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from Tom + Chee food truck; a home-cooked breakfast by senior leadership members for those who work the overnight shift; ice cream sundaes; a candy party; T-shirts; and more.
“Our DSPs are hard-working, dedicated - and simply amazing,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner. “We wanted to show these inspiring individuals how much we value and appreciate all they do, day in and day out, to provide hope and healing for the youth in our care. Our DSPs are our greatest asset, and deserve our utmost thanks and praise during this appreciation week and all year long.”
Look below to view photos from Devereux Georgia’s weeklong celebration.
At Devereux, our team members go above and beyond every day to help the children, adolescents and adults in our care achieve their full potential. Recently, two Devereux Arizona program managers shared what they love most about their jobs and the organization. Look below to read excerpts from their testimonials.
“Devereux has long been a champion of the potential of each individual. All individuals regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or any other unique attribute is packed with potential in the eyes of Devereux, and we seek to help each individual unlock and share that potential. We are always striving to be better and rise to the challenges of each day. In recent years, Devereux has adopted Servant Leadership as an organization, and helped each staff member adopt the Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, which include: Skilled Communication, Foresight, Compassionate Collaboration, Leading with Moral Authority, being a Person of Character, Systems Thinking, and Putting People First. Devereux has put me first and helped me be a better version of me. Because of that, I get to wear Devereux’s name proudly, and strive each day to unlock the potential of each diverse person I encounter. That’s not just a job. That’s not just a career loaded with potential of its own. That’s a great privilege.”
- Allen Young, Devereux Arizona program manager
“Devereux is a Servant Leadership organization whose culture supports customer service excellence in everything we do. This organizational culture strives to exceed the expectations of everyone who seeks our services, and works to ensure that our employees receive compassionate support and coaching in exchange for their hard work and dedication. I love that I have the privilege of working for an organization whose culture supports fellow-minded people who inspire each other to work better. Devereux has built a brand I’m proud to call my own. Devereux’s focus on the work culture certainly plays a positive role in the organization’s success.”
- Greg Strom, Devereux Arizona program manager
“I’m thankful for being in Devereux’s residential treatment program because I know that it will help me in life to be able to be positive and be a success.”
- Jasmine, former Devereux Texas individual
“Thank you for all of your support. The things you have done for us make a significant change in our day-to-day routines. You guys try to teach us not to let our past get in the way of our future.”
- Annabelle, former Devereux Texas individual
Throughout the month of June, they held Pride parades, raised rainbow flags and made signs showing support for the LGBTQ community.
At Devereux Georgia, the center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee held a Pride walk and educated youth about the importance of acceptance.
“Our youth carried posters they had created with inspiring words and phrases, such as ‘Love yourself;’ ‘Be you;’ and ‘Have confidence.’ Staff cheered them on as they walked past it was amazing,” said Devereux Georgia DEI Champion Takalatiesha Smith, who helped organizing the event. “Before the walk, team members explained what LGBTQ pride means, as well as the importance of being an ally and always doing the right thing. Afterward, our individuals enjoyed snow cones, popcorn and ice cream. All three refreshment were color-coordinated with the colors of the rainbow. The ultimate goal of the event was to raise awareness and celebrate the LGBTQ community and the significant impact those individuals have had on the world.”
Look below to view photos from Devereux Georgia’s Pride walk.
A parent whose son received services through Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Behavioral Health Services recently wrote a note, thanking Family-Based Supervisor Josh Burton and his colleagues at Devereux Pennsylvania CBHS’ Delaware office for helping her son thrive. Look below to read her heartfelt letter.
“I wanted to thank you (Josh), Devereux, Andrew and Shariff for the phenomenal service we received over the past year. You all contributed to helping us save my son’s life. He has made so much progress, and is on the road to a happy life. We could not have done it without any of you, and I will be appreciative of the support and help that was provided. I can only imagine how difficult your jobs are, but hopefully, you see that you do make a difference and help families tremendously. Thank you, again. I am forever grateful for all of you. You've made me a happy mom, and us, a happy family again.”
- Stacy, Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Behavioral Health Services parent
Team members delivered a gift basket to the couple that included a gift card for a one-night stay and spa treatment at Callaway Resort and Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., along with a certificate for one night of respite care for their foster children.
Since April 2001, the Jacksons have opened their hearts and home to more than 40 children and youth with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences. Foster care staff describe them as compassionate, understanding, patient and kind.
“Being a foster parent, is not always easy, but it is extremely rewarding,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner. “Joann and Bobby are one of those special couples that understand they are not only helping children achieve success, but they also are helping families regain the stability they need to be successful. The Jacksons treat their foster children like they are their own they have a genuine desire to help people and provide each youth in their care with a sense of belonging.”
Look below to view a photo of Joann Jackson holding a sign that Devereux Georgia team members created for her.
At Devereux, we believe foster parents play a critical role in helping children heal and grow. Recently, foster parents who work with Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia foster care program expressed their gratitude to team members for helping them in their foster care journey. Look below to read excerpts from their notes of thanks.
“Destiny has been a gift to society with her ability to be an outstanding social worker. She is empathetic to the needs of the children. She’s very charismatic, and will do whatever it takes to make sure the children are loved and well taken care of. She puts her best foot forward. Any needs they may have, and any concerns I might be dealing with, she gets it done. … When they say it takes a village to raise children, this (Devereux’s) team is the epitome of it. Thank you for all you do.”
“Kate has formed a relationship with me that is not only familiar, but one of comfort. I look forward to talking to her because there is nothing like discussing … being a foster parent with someone who also shares in the passion and the love of a child’s well-being and life. When your biweekly meetings no longer feel like meetings, but feel like a safe space to discuss the well-being of your child(ren), then you know the staff has transformed into something more phenomenal than just a staff member. I appreciate Kate, and thank her for being the best form of support I needed all these years.”
Recently, foster parents who work with Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia foster care program wrote notes, thanking their case managers or resource parent support workers for helping them make a difference in the lives of youth with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences. Look below to read excerpts from their letters of appreciation.
“Being completely new to the foster care system, I so appreciate Estela’s willingness to help me through the process. … She is always willing to answer my questions and help me figure out how to do what’s best for my foster daughter. I want to thank her for making a difference for me, and for helping to make a difference in the life of my foster daughter. Our lives are forever changed - each and everything Estela has done for us has impacted both of our lives for the better! … Thank you seems like it is just not enough!”
“Darnell has trained and encouraged me to be the best foster parent I can be. Almost everything he has taught me in training, I’ve implemented in my home. Darnell is very loving, caring and passionate. He goes above and beyond to make sure the needs of everyone in my home are met. My girls love and respect him, sometimes calling on him for advice. Darnell always makes himself available to answer any questions I may have. … Darnell is very good at what he does, and I am glad to have someone like him on my team!”
“Morgan is always available to discuss any challenges I face as a resource parent. When I feel I’m not getting through to my girls, I talk to Morgan and she offers great suggestions. As older adults, we believe we have the best solutions. However, when I don’t see much progress using my methods, many times, Morgan offers solutions that seem to be a better fit. …”
Recently, two youths who receive services through Devereux Florida expressed their gratitude to team members for providing a safe and supportive therapeutic environment, and helping them thrive and achieve their full potential. Look below to read their powerful and inspiring notes of thanks.
“I really want to thank all Devereux staff for being in my life, and changing my life to be a better person.”
“I want to stay (at Devereux Florida’s Orlando campus) because I feel safe and loved here - I can be me.”
Recently, family members of individuals served by Devereux Pennsylvania - Adult Services expressed their gratitude to staff for going above and beyond to support those in their care during COVID-19. Look below to read their inspirational messages.
“You guys rock. I absolutely love the care that my cousin gets at his facility/home. Keep up the great work and stay safe everyone!”
“I wanted to take time to express how wonderful the staff has been at Cornwallis (group home). They have followed all the rules and protected the boys. They are kind and loving to them, making sure their needs have been met. They have also been kind and caring to me, and I thank them every chance I get.”
Recently, Glenholme School Executive Director Noah Noyes challenged team members to find a few minutes each day to share a noteworthy observation or accomplishment with a family member of one of the students in their care, a donor or supporter.
"Our staff might tell a parent how a student is doing in class, or how that student enjoyed a particular activity,” Noyes explained. “The feedback we have received from our families and community of supporters has been positive - and inspiring - and has helped our team members understand that what they are doing is important and their efforts do not go unnoticed. Our employees often share the responses they receive during team meetings so we can celebrate student growth and success as a community, and keep our focus on Servant Leadership and the significant impact it can have on others."
More than 200 team members were treated to their choice of tacos, bowls or nachos topped with beef, chicken, Korean barbecue or a vegetarian option from Let’s Taco Bout It Food Truck ATL.
“We want to thank our wonderful Advisory Board members for sponsoring this food truck and showing our employees how much they value and appreciate their hard work and dedication,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner. “Team members who work an overnight shift also received a special surprise boxed lunches from Chick-fil-A. All of our staff left with smiles - and full stomachs - and were grateful for the outpouring of support.”
Look below to view a photo of the food truck.
A youth who completed specialized behavioral health treatment at Devereux Florida’s Viera campus and parent whose child currently receives services through Devereux Florida expressed their gratitude to team members for making a positive difference in the lives of those they serve every day. Look below to read their notes of thanks.
“Thank you for taking care of me and teaching me to be the man I am today. I’m going to miss you all. I am grateful for all of your support and thanks to you all.”
"Thank God for Devereux, a place where they (the kids) feel at home and they help us parents stay calm and knowing their children are, and feel, good. Thank you all very much.”
Recently, the parent of a student enrolled in Devereux Connecticut - The Glenholme School wrote a note to Glenholme School Executive Director Noah Noyes, thanking him and school staff for helping his stepson overcome the challenges he faced, including social difficulties.
“You guys saved that boy’s life. There’s just no two ways about it. You SAVED HIS LIFE. Know it for a fact, Noah. You’re all amazing individuals. What happened with my stepson is an outright, irrefutable miracle for him; for us. Because of you, he has a real shot at a real future. Nothing else is more important that helping a child overcome things.”
Foster parents who work with Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia foster care program recently sent notes of thanks to team members for supporting them on their foster care journey. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
“I am thankful for Devereux for giving me the opportunity to do something that I enjoy, that I love and that I am passionate about. The entire Devereux team always provides encouragement and support in any time of need, and I am thankful to be a part of such a great organization.”
“You guys are always there when I call you, or check in with me to make sure everything is OK or whenever I’m in need.”
“I'm thankful for Devereux for the experiences that have contributed to me being a positive influence in the lives of many of the foster children that have graced my doors, and also with helping me to be a positive role model as a foster mother. Ms. Estela is one of the most efficient case workers that I have been blessed to work with.”
“We are truly one big happy family ... whenever there's a need my Devereux family is always there for me and my children.”
Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia foster care program recently held a holiday drive-thru event to distribute toys to more than 100 Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS foster children.
Dozens of toys, including puzzles, arts and crafts, action figures and dolls, were donated by Devereux corporate staff, foster parents and a local nonprofit.
Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS team members also gave foster parents gift bags filled with sweet treats, a gift card and a holiday card featuring a photo of foster care staff.
“We wanted to make the holiday season special for our foster families,” said Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Program Supervisor Ursula Yau. “Foster parents came in shifts to pick up the presents we packed for each child. Staff members were there to greet them and make sure the gifts were distributed safely. In addition to the drive-thru event, we held Zoom meetings with our foster families to wish them happy holidays. Everyone was in good spirits, and it was our chance to thank them for their tireless efforts to keep youth happy and healthy - especially during this challenging time.”
Look below to view photos of the gifts, drive-thru event and the holiday card featuring a photo of foster care staff.
Youth enrolled in Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Learning Center recently made 60 holiday cards for residents at the Watermark at Bellingham retirement community in West Chester, Pa.
“Our students created these beautiful and thoughtful cards in art class to help brighten the holiday season for retirement home residents,” said Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Learning Center Education Director Susan Nice, MSW, who personally delivered the cards. “This project helped our youth understand that there are people who need some extra cheer this year because they cannot be with their loved ones due to COVID-19. Students were excited to make the cards to show residents how much they care.”
Look below to view a photo of Nice delivering the cards wearing her festive holiday face mask.
The shows were held via Zoom over the course of seven days, with each show lasting between 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the number of performances.
Devereux Colorado team members clapped and cheered as the youth expressed themselves.
“The individuals we serve are creative, imaginative and courageous - our talent shows highlighted all of these things,” said Devereux Colorado Recreation Programs Manager Alex Dorsam. “Our youth performed song and dance routines, skits and stand-up comedy. One individual even played the flute! Some of our youth were apprehensive about performing in front of their peers and staff, but once they finished, they were extremely proud of themselves and what they accomplished. This was our center’s first Zoom talent show series, but our individuals and staff are ready to do it again! The idea for the talent show series came about during a discussion in one of our recent National Recreation Committee meetings. The committee is comprised of recreation program staff from across our organization. We meet every week and share creative and effective ways to keep our individuals engaged. Other centers experienced similar success with their Zoom talent shows.”
On Nov. 20, students and staff at Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island observed Transgender Day of Remembrance and honored the memory of transgender individuals whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
Dressed in black and carrying white cards with the names of 37 transgender and gender diverse individuals who died in 2020, 37 youth and team members walked around the Devereux School. Afterward, each participant read aloud the name of one individual who lost their life, and the group held a moment of silence.
Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually since 1999 when transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998, and all of the transgender people lost to violence since Hester’s death. Each year, cities and communities around the world commemorate these individuals with vigils, rallies, marches and other gatherings.
“No one should be afraid to live life as their authentic self,” said Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Massachusetts and Rhode Island Director of Clinical Services Ashley Warhol, Psy.D. “By holding this event we wanted to honor individuals whose lives were cut tragically short and raise awareness of the challenges that remain for LGBTQ youth and adults. Over the course of Transgender Awareness Week, students listened to guest speakers who shared their own powerful and inspiring stories; learned about gender diversity and LGBTQ inclusion; and watched meaningful documentaries on these important topics.”
Earlier this year, Devereux Georgia’s Servant Leadership committee established a monthly “Blow People Away Award” to formally recognize and thank team members for going above and beyond to demonstrate Servant Leadership. The award also honors those employees who provide the highest level of customer service and satisfaction to the youth and families they serve, external partners - or each other.
Teacher Arleen Diagostino recently received the award for “always demonstrating a servant’s heart.”
“Ms. Diagostino consistently puts others first - and encourages her students to do the same,” said Sherry McKenzie, principal at Devereux Georgia’s Ackerman Academy. “She launched the ‘Caught Being Kind’ initiative, which recognizes students for performing random acts of kindness. This initiative is a great way to promote Servant Leadership across our campus, and teach our youth the value of putting other people first. We want to thank Ms. Diagostino for her passion and dedication to our students and staff.”
Look below to view a photo of Ms. Diagostino with her award.
Recently, a youth who receives services through Devereux Florida’s Viera campus wrote a note to Campus Administrator Wendell Normile and Program Manager Akina Orr, thanking them for providing outstanding care and support.
“I would like to give Ms. Akina and Mr. Wendell thanks. They understood me and helped figure some things out, and know what’s important to me. It really made my day so much better! Thank you both so very much. You guys are amazing!”
Look below to view a photo of Akina Orr and Wendell Normile.
Casa Del Rio Mexican Restaurant recently donated delicious (and authentic) Mexican style meals to Devereux Arizona staff. Team members from all work shifts were able to select a meal from Casa Del Rio’s menu, and the restaurant’s owner, Doug Jackson, personally delivered them at lunchtime.
"Every child should have the opportunity to be a child, and I am delighted that Devereux has given me an opportunity to be a foster mom. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.”
"She always gets me going when I’m depressed, and doesn’t stop trying until she’s successful. She provides a lot of activities for us so we aren’t bored, and goes above and beyond for us. Thanks so much, Ms. Racquel. You’re the best.”
Team members at Devereux centers across the country recently celebrated Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Recognition Week - Sept. 13-19 - by thanking their colleagues with personalized cards, tasty food and appreciation gifts.
Here are just a few of the activities we held to honor our DSPs …
Look below to view photos of Devereux’s DSP Recognition Week festivities. Learn how we celebrate our 3,700 DSPs during this annual appreciation week and all year long.
Devereux Arizona Clinical Program Manager Michelle Marvin, LPC, received a phone call from a family member and caregiver, thanking staff at the center’s residential treatment center in Scottsdale for helping the youth in his care manage his emotions and behaviors more effectively.
The family member updated Marvin on the child’s progress since leaving Devereux, saying, “He is a totally different kid!”
During the phone call, Marvin also spoke to the youth, who told her, “Ms. Michelle, I miss Devereux.” He then went on to say how “awesome” he is doing.
Marvin wrote a note to colleagues, praising their efforts.
“Shoutout to all of YOU who taught this boy how to release his energy in a healthy way; helped him cut his food at mealtime; taught him his ABC’s and how to spell his name. We did some good work with this kid!”
A Devereux family member recently wrote a letter to our team members in Texas, expressing her gratitude for their dedication and commitment as they continue to care for her loved one during COVID-19.
Team members recently created a care package for former Health Information Management Coordinator Jane Meizlish, who retired in May after 27 years of dedicated service to the organization.
Staff collected various items, including a blanket, pillow, gift cards, flowers and snacks, and delivered them to Meizlish, who wrote a note to her former co-workers, expressing her gratitude and appreciation for the thoughtful gifts.
“I was up until 3 a.m. reading cards and messages on the blanket. Everyone was so sweet. Very humble that people thought so much of me. Please tell everyone ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.”
Devereux Arizona’s Advisory Board recently sponsored a food truck to thank front-line staff at the organization’s Residential Treatment Center in Scottsdale for their dedication and commitment to the youth and families they serve.
Employees were welcomed with a banner that said, “Thank You for All You Do!” and spent some time relaxing and socializing while enjoying treats from the Culinary Skol food truck, such as deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers and salads.
“We want to thank our wonderful Advisory Board members for their support, and our talented and hard-working team members who continue to provide outstanding care and service, day in and day out, in both our Phoenix and Tucson communities,” said Devereux Arizona Executive Director Yvette Jackson, LMSW, DBH. “The food truck brought smiles to the faces of our staff, and showed them how much we value and appreciate all they are doing.”
Look below to view photos of the food truck.
Recently, a girl who receives services through Devereux Florida‘s Viera campus expressed her gratitude to team members for continuing to provide the best possible care and support during COVID-19.
Devereux Texas Advisory Board members recently wrote a letter to staff at our League City and Victoria campuses, thanking them for their unwavering dedication to the individuals in their care during the pandemic.
A parent sent a note of thanks recently to Devereux Arizona team members, updating them on her son’s progress since leaving Devereux.
Nothing Bundt Cakes donated a batch of Bundt cakes recently to Devereux Georgia youth to help make their day a little sweeter.
Employees at the Kennesaw, Ga., bakery whipped up eight, 10-inch Bundt cakes for youth to savor and enjoy.
“We cannot thank our friends at Nothing Bundt Cakes enough for their generous - and delicious - donation, and continued support of the individuals in our care,” said Devereux Georgia Director of Business Development Danielle Brock. “The bakery wanted to do something to bring smiles to the faces of our youth during COVID-19 - and what better way than with some sweet and scrumptious cake!”
Nothing Bundt Cakes Corporate and Community Outreach Manager Lindsey Hall also noted the bakery is a longtime supporter of Devereux Georgia. “Franchise owner, Kristi Janman, and I are involved in North Cobb Civitan Club, whose mission is focused on helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We first learned about Devereux through Civitan and fell in love with the work they do,” Hall explained. “Since then, we toured Devereux Georgia’s campus; provided Bundt cakes for the center’s annual ‘Hope Event;’ invited students to tour our bakery; and even attended a student’s graduation ceremony. We knew youth weren’t able to go on field trips due to the pandemic, and we wanted to spread joy by providing these cakes. It’s a blessing to have such a wonderful organization in our community, and we are always seeking ways to sweeten the lives of Devereux Georgia staff and the youth they serve!”
Members of the center’s outpatient services behavioral coaching team in Tucson demonstrated their #DevereuxPride by drawing rainbows and writing down words of encouragement and support, such as “Keep being you;” “Proud ally;” “and “Be yourself, shine bright,” and then sharing them with coworkers.
“We are truly proud to be allies to the LGBTQ community - today and every day - and we believe it’s important to share that Pride with others,” said Devereux Arizona Regional Director of Operations Sunshine Turner, M.Ed. “Throughout the month of June, our center held various events and activities to celebrate Pride Month. This Zoom meeting provided a fun and unique way for our behavioral coaching team, which has been working remotely throughout COVID-19, to promote inclusion and acceptance of all individuals and share what LGBTQ Pride means to them.”
Look below to view a photo of Devereux Arizona’s behavioral coaching team demonstrating its #DevereuxPride.
Devereux New Jersey Executive Director Brian Hancock recently wrote a note of thanks to team members for going above and beyond to support the individuals in their care, as well as their colleagues, during COVID-19.
“If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that we have the most incredible team at Devereux New Jersey. I frequently express my pride in our staff, even when we are operating under perfect conditions. But now, more than ever before, I am truly humbled by the work you do. As the current global health crisis continues to unfold, I see you tackle each new challenge with the grace, dedication and clinical excellence that have become the cornerstones of our services. Thank you for everything you continue to do as we navigate this time together. Keep up the great work.”
Team members who are working remotely received their care packages in the mail, while the center’s front-line staff received theirs before the start of their shifts.
The care packages included items such as:
“We wanted to show all of our team members - whether they are working remotely or on campus how grateful we are for their dedication and commitment, and for everything they do on a daily basis to support the individuals in our care,” said Devereux Arizona Executive Director Yvette Jackson, LMSW, DBH. “Over the past few months, our staff have stepped up to this challenge in a remarkable and inspiring way, demonstrating time and time again how we are #DevereuxStrong.”
Devereux Arizona employees were thrilled to receive the care packages. Here’s what just a few of them had to say:
“What a wonderful surprise to go to my mailbox and find a care package from Devereux. Having a leadership team like you all proves once again, what a wonderful organization Devereux has been, is and will continue to be.”
“The Servant Leadership that is displayed from the top down really has a huge impact. The heart of our leaders is what will make me push harder and harder for this company every day. There is nothing that we cannot do together!”
Look below to view photos of the care packages, along with a description of the COVID-19 survival kits.
A former Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island student showed her support for the individuals in our care by donating recreational supplies, including toys, games and arts and crafts to help our youth learn new skills and have fun, while spending more time indoors.
Recently, a parent sent a letter of gratitude to team members at Devereux Pennsylvania’s Center for Autism Research and Education Services (CARES) for serving and supporting her son for the past 14 years.
“I can't say it enough - you all form the MOST amazing team, and we are incredibly thankful for all of the ways you have loved my son these past 14 years. He is a fundamentally different person because of you. Some of you remember the painful shell he lived under when he first came to Devereux CARES at age 5. It was such a fight to get him to engage or interact in even the smallest way!
Now look at him - we call him the "mayor" of our block. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him!
THANK YOU. I hope you take deep joy and satisfaction, knowing each one of you has played a real role in who he has become today.”
On June 1, team members raised a rainbow flag on campus to celebrate the start of Pride Month and show their support for LGBTQ colleagues, as well as the individuals and families they serve.
This was one of several Pride events scheduled throughout the month. Youth enrolled in a culinary class baked brownies and Pride-themed cupcakes for their peers and Devereux Arizona staff. The tasty and colorful treats were part of a display in the cafeteria that also included LGBTQ educational materials on the history of LGBTQ Pride from 1970 - when the first Pride march took place - to today.
Devereux Arizona Outpatient Services Clinical Program Manager Evette Richardson, LMSW, BHP, said youth also are sharing what LGBTQ Pride means to them. “During individual, group and recreational therapy sessions, we have been talking about the riots that started the Pride movement, as well as the current civil unrest in our country following the deaths of George Floyd, and others in the Black Community. This has given youth a safe space to talk about their identities and how they feel about the current civil unrest, while allowing them to reflect on the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969. Those riots marked the turning point of the LGBTQ movement in the U.S., and led to the June Pride celebrations we have today.”
Look below to view photos from Pride events at Devereux Arizona.
Congratulations to the class of 2020!
“I really appreciate Behavior Coach Shannon Maclean, she is always going above and beyond. I appreciate her connection with my kids. This is a very challenging time, and she makes tons of recommendations. I’m so thankful for her. My kids miss her when she’s gone, but love when people like Monica, Kylie and Safari fill in.
Everyone my kids work with at Devereux is so compassionate. We have been supported during the most difficult time (COVID-19). Staff members check in all the time, making sure we feel supported. I’m so appreciative of that. I give Devereux an A++ because I wouldn’t have known what to do during COVID-19. I appreciate all you have done. I love everyone in the respite homes. The staff has no idea how much I appreciate them. When my kids are there, I know they are safe and taken care of.
Crisis Clinician Tamara Klein is amazing. She just gets the kids. She had a connection with me right away. It was like she knew me, and was ready to work with the kids. She was willing to learn and help them. I appreciate Devereux paying attention to all of the little things. My kids are doing so well. It’s amazing. My son is building his self-esteem and relationships. He is really working effectively. I’m so happy there is an agency that meets us where we are as a family. I can’t thank you enough.”
Students at Devereux Texas’ Victoria campus are spreading kindness by spelling out “Muchas Gracias” (Thanks a lot) in rainbow-colored letters, and posting them on the center’s cafeteria windows for all essential employees to see.
Devereux Texas Teacher Lina Kruger organized the art project to teach students about the power of kindness and compassion.
“Our students are aware of how the pandemic has impacted all of us - they see team members wearing face masks and frequently cleaning and sanitizing surfaces,” Kruger said. “I explained how Devereux New York brightened up its campus with rainbow-colored decorations to show support for its front-line staff, and we could do the same! We decided to post ‘Muchas Gracias’ on the center’s cafeteria windows to show gratitude and appreciation for our multicultural staff - and to bring smiles to the faces of everyone who passes by. This was a fun and empowering project for our students. They learned they can make a positive difference in people’s lives just by spreading a little kindness.”
Look below to view photos of the rainbow display.
Devereux Pennsylvania - Adult Services is recognizing its hard-working and dedicated front-line staff by holding weekly giveaways throughout the month of May. Every Wednesday and Friday, three essential workers are randomly selected to receive an “Essential Employee” mug; a tote bag that says “I’m an essential worker so, basically I’m kind of a big deal;” or a badge holder that says “We are all in this together … 6 feet apart.”
“Our front-line staff are definitely a big deal,” said Devereux Pennsylvania Adult Services Executive Director Christopher Betts, M.A. “Our employees work incredibly hard every day, and we are extremely proud of their efforts. This recognition program is a way to show our team members how much we appreciate all they are doing to support the adults we are privileged to serve.”
Look below to view photos of recent winners.
Devereux Georgia recently celebrated “Superhero Day” to honor and thank its frontline staff for going above and beyond to support the individuals in our care.
Team members wore superhero-themed T-shirts, facemasks and other attire, and enjoyed a lunch featuring Chick-fil-A sandwiches, as well as Powerade sports drinks generously donated by Coca-Cola. “Our employees demonstrate incredible courage, strength and resilience on a daily basis - and they are all superheroes,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner. “This event provided our staff with an opportunity to relax and reflect on their hard work and accomplishments, while enjoying the company of colleagues.”
Look below to view photos from the event.
Youth at Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) center showed their appreciation for the center’s front-line staff by creating a beautiful rainbow mural with messages of hope and resilience.
Devereux Connecticut - The Glenholme School is honoring its essential employees through weekly “Thanks for Being Awesome” celebrations.
A foster parent wrote a letter of gratitude recently to Devereux Arizona team members who delivered face masks and coffee filters to foster homes throughout Maricopa County.
The Worcester Railers Hockey Club, a minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders, delivered pizzas recently to Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island front-line staff as part of the hockey club’s “Food for Frontliners” program.
Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Behavioral Health Services (CBHS) center recently served breakfast and lunch to essential staff at our Malvern and Glenmoore campuses to thank them for their efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Devereux Georgia is honoring its dedicated front-line staff through daily “shoutouts” on loud speakers and telephone intercoms across campus.
More than 100 years ago, our beloved founder, Helena T. Devereux, led the organization through the Spanish flu (with far fewer resources than we have at our disposal today).
Recently, a parent sent a note of thanks to Devereux California Director of Behavioral Services Noelle Escovedo and team members at the center’s Foothill house, expressing his gratitude for their unwavering dedication and support as they continue to care for his son.
Devereux Connecticut - The Glenholme School Executive Director Noah Noyes, M.Ed., recently wrote a letter thanking team members for their dedication and service during COVID-19.
Devereux New York team members - with help from the Red Hook Police Department - held a parade to show their support for the center’s front-line staff, and the youth and adults entrusted to our care, amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Devereux Arizona’s outpatient services team recently wrote down positive words and phrases that have helped them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and shared them with colleagues during a Zoom video conferencing meeting.
Students at Devereux Connecticut – The Glenholme School showed their gratitude and appreciation to local hospital staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by preparing meals and creating greeting cards. Look below to read a letter of thanks from the Glenholme community to New Milford Hospital staff.
Devereux Texas is showing its support for our front-line staff and local first responders amid the COVID-19 pandemic in a big and colorful way.
A Devereux California team member recently wrote a letter to her colleagues, praising them for their compassion, collaboration and dedication. In addition, she noted how the center successfully launched Devereux Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports three months ahead of schedule to help the individuals we serve stay safe and healthy.
“Often in times of crisis, it can be so easy to only focus on what insurmountable challenges lie ahead. Here at Devereux California, we decided to have our own narrative, and go above and beyond to focus on our core values and mission statement by continuing to change lives by unlocking and nurturing human potential.
To show our resilience, Devereux California launched its Devereux Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (D-PBIS) initiative three months earlier than planned. Members of our team rallied together to kick off D-PBIS in the hope we could provide time to focus on the good things that occur every day, and help teach skills that focus on safety, responsibility and respect.
A week after implementation, we (individuals and staff) celebrated with an ice cream social (keeping social distancing in mind). So many good things happened in just five days! Our individuals worked on being safe by washing and sanitizing their hands. They had shown responsibility by helping with their routines and continue to focus on exercise and group activities. They had also shown respectfulness by informing staff when others needed help, and by using their words when they were frustrated.
By starting D-PBIS earlier than planned, we have provided an outlet for folks to nurture their potential with a positive outlook on the current crisis.”
“I am so grateful for the staff of Devereux Texas, not only for their bravery and dedication to the students during this pandemic, but also for the help given to my son while he was a client there. Even then, the staff of Devereux showed their strength, endurance and dedication to their students. My son was a client at League City during Hurricane Harvey.
“We wanted to thank you and your team (at Devereux Arizona) for your work and efforts toward helping our daughter toward healing. We are looking forward to her homecoming and are optimistic going forward. We realize there will be challenges and trials in our future, but we’re very hopeful that what she has learned at Devereux will be a positive factor and will benefit greatly.”
Devereux New York’s “Rainbow Initiative” is in full effect.
We’ve spoken with my son, often by phone, and have been pleased with how he seems to be managing with the excellent care and support from the Devereux staff. We’re very grateful to Ryan (staff member) for loaning my son his iPad to have occasional chats by Zoom. That has made an amazing difference!
(About a recent family meeting) “It was wonderful that we were all able to meet when we did. It gave me confidence to know how prepared Devereux was for what came so soon after. This time is certainly a stark reminder of what’s most important in life. Here’s to a thoughtful end of this crisis. May you all stay safe and well.”
“Thank you for doing your best to lead during these crazy times. I think it’s really important to focus on positive things during anxiety-provoking times. Sara is that positive thing for us. She is always thorough, and so kind, but this email was above and beyond. She did not need to converse with my son about if he has chatted with us, nor did she have to delve into knowing how much we must miss him. Those little conversations, about these things, are GOLD. This whole thing has been very hard for us as a family. Knowing that my son is at a place where people care so much for his whole health makes a huge difference. I just want all of Sara's supervisors to know what a blessing she is, and what an incredible nurse and person she is. I’d also like to say how much I appreciate Chrystal’s (a case manager) availability and responsiveness to our concerns. She was thorough in her approach to answering our questions, and that's very reassuring for us.”
“I would like to take the time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Devereux New York Direct Support Professional Kristen. For the past four years, I have seen Kristen exhibit nothing but extreme care and compassion for the individuals in her care. In times of difficulty, Kristen helps provide a stable and caring environment. Whether she is providing comfort in moments of emotional distress, running my appointments or taking an interest in my education, Kristen exemplifies what a direct support professional should aspire to be.”
Devereux New York is spreading positive spring vibes. Recently, our team members - and individuals enrolled in our residential program - painted flowers and other sunny images (later posted on our windows) to generate smiles and good cheer across campus.
In a note to Devereux New York staff member Michelle (who led the painting exercise), fellow colleague, Krista, wrote: “Thank you for being a source of happiness and stability for the individuals we serve - and bringing smiles to the faces of staff. You truly are a gift to the organization and we are lucky to have you. Thank you for coming to work each and every day and giving 100 percent. Stay healthy and keep being amazing!”
"I am very impressed and appreciative of the dedication and good care that is being provided for my son by the staff at Devereux Pennsylvania – Adult Services. I know they really care about the guys, and are working very hard to keep them safe and engaged. They are truly fantastic.”
“Just got off the phone with (name here)’s mom and she was so grateful we are providing video therapy. She said (another nonprofit) told her they don't know when they will be able to see her other daughter for therapy, and she felt like they dropped the ball. Our client (name here) also really appreciated it. She was sad thinking she wouldn't be able to see me in person and got so excited knowing she could still see me on video, and maybe even get to meet my dog over the camera. Mom was beyond appreciative and just kept saying ‘Wow!’ So please know all of your hard work to make sure our families are being supported through this is such a HUGE deal. Sending all the virtual hugs your way as you work through all of this!”
“I reached out to a group of staff at Devereux who were instrumental in helping my son through an emergency during this crisis. I wanted to know if they accepted deliveries, as (spouse) and I wanted to send a gift package to show our gratitude. The staff caught on as to what we were trying to do and simply said, ‘This is what we do for our children and adults at Devereux. We are here for (individual name here) and we will not accept any gifts, a thank you is all we need.’ Those words say it all.”
“Thank you, and each and every staff member at Devereux! My heart aches that in this time of national, or should I say international, uncertainty and insecurity, the most important person in my life is away from me. In my heart and gut I believe my son is safer there with you than he would be here with me. How in the world did it happen that someone else could protect my child better than I could? I don’t even know how to fully process that, to be honest. I am so grateful to you and everyone there for your commitment to our children, and to doing everything you are able to keep them safe. Thank you for your stellar and regular communications and updates. What little sleep I’m getting really is because I know that, at this moment in this crisis, my son is safe, and that I can trust if that changes, I will be notified immediately. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to you and your team.”
"I am a teacher at Devereux. I just wanted to express my gratitude for the way Devereux is handling this difficult time. Management could be draconian, using threats and warnings about losing our jobs if we don’t come to work, but instead, you are supporting us and offering incentives for doing things as simple as just coming to work. The way you are respecting your employees is doing a lot to reduce the stress we are all feeling. Thanks again and we appreciate you too."
“We want to express our heartfelt appreciation for each of you during this unprecedented time. Thank you for lovingly, skillfully providing for our children/relatives, and the most vulnerable, with your unsurpassable care, quality, and expertise. This pandemic has triggered a lot of fear and anxiety for me with our children’s health conditions/concerns. (Individual #1 name here) was scheduled for ENT/GI procedures, which have been cancelled. And (individual #2 name here) being immunocompromised in the midst of COVID-19 is terrifying. UCLA was already in the process of coordinating her immune globulin infusions before the pandemic, but everything is delayed. All that to say, we are very sensitive to, and supportive of, your cautious, conservative position in minimizing exposure and promoting health for your clients, residents, staff and community.
You have miraculously adapted and optimally protected everyone at Devereux. We have told our family, friends, and colleagues what a model of excellence y’all are. You have been on top of all the details and managing the situation like the best hospitals. Your tireless efforts, countless hours, reassuring family conversations, endless task force meetings, continuous corporate and community agency discussions, are obvious and fruitful.
Along with our fellow parents and families, we have the utmost confidence and overflowing gratitude in your executive team, leadership and staff at Devereux. We forever celebrate that God connected us to (individual #2 name here) at Devereux almost a year ago. And each of you played an instrumental role in making this MIRACLE happen! (Individual #1 name here) is now thriving in his new home, achieving his full potential and experiencing breakthrough beyond what we could have ever imagined. Be assured of our ongoing prayers for Health, Peace, Provision, and Protection upon you, your loved ones, and entire Devereux Family.”
Judy said she thinks Devereux’s response to the current crisis, “should be the gold standard for how it’s handled. I know that I can be a tough customer, so if I’m this happy then you guys must really be doing it right!”
Watch inspirational and educational videos below from Devereux team members.
Servant Leadership shoutouts
Inspiration: Make it a habit
Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Philadelphia foster parents are helping to change lives every day by opening their hearts and homes to children in need. Recently, just a few of these committed and compassionate individuals created videos, thanking team members for their ongoing support.
Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS foster parent Marva Murray thanks staff:
Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS foster parent Demetria Leary thanks staff:
Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS foster parent Tanika Jamaladdin thanks staff:
The importance of being flexible
Poyner says, “Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned, or a better ‘you’ to be cultivated because you allowed yourself to be flexible.”
Strengthening resilience through self-reflection
Poyner says, “If you need to make some changes in your life, reflect upon them. If nothing changes, nothing is going to change.”
The importance of practicing empathy
In this video, Devereux Center for Resilient Children Early Childhood Specialist and National Trainer Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D., discusses the importance of putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Poyner suggests that, in your efforts to be empathetic, ask yourself the following questions:
Poyner says, “Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with the person. You’re just trying to have a better understanding of how they are feeling.”
Make time for quiet
In this video, Devereux Center for Resilient Children Early Childhood Specialist and National Trainer Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D., discusses the importance of pressing the pause button on life and making time - even if it’s just a few minutes - for quiet. Poyner explains that you can use that time for meditation or self-reflection. She says, “In those moments of quiet, just become closer to you. Make time to be still - and be you.”
Select a “family member of the week”
Using music to practice self-control
The importance of morning rituals
The Devereux Center for Resilient Children wants to know how you are staying positive and resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to participate in this brief survey to share your personal strategies for staying resilient.
Thank you to Devereux Texas front-line staff
Turning the ordinary into something extraordinary
In this video, Devereux Center for Resilient Children Early Childhood Specialist and National Trainer Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D., explains the importance of taking ordinary moments throughout the day, such as dinner time or a walk around the block, and making them extraordinary. Poyner says, “There are things you and I can start doing right now that may seem ordinary, but are rather extraordinary when you think about doing them with intention. Look for those ordinary moments and try to make them magical. I challenge you to see how many you can find each day.”
The importance of self-compassion
In this video, Devereux Center for Resilient Children Early Childhood Specialist and National Trainer Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D., explains the importance of being kind and gentle with yourself, especially during these challenging times. Poyner says, “If your friend was having a tough moment, what would you say to him or her? I bet you would find a way to be kind, and that’s self-compassion: treating yourself like you would a good friend.”
Using humor to build resilience
Thank you to our #HealthcareHeroes
Look below to read just a few of these inspirational messages from Devereux Arizona employees:
“Thank you for giving it your ALL every day! I am so proud and inspired by each of you.”
“Your efforts and perseverance humble me. Every single day, you go out there and put our individuals some of the most vulnerable people in the state, first. You sacrifice so others can get the valuable care they need. To say you’re heroes is an understatement, a statement I will never stop believing in! From the bottom of my heart, I want to personally thank each and every one of you. I can’t wait to get back on campus, brief residential, kitchen, school or wherever you are, to tell you that in person!”
Look below to view the video honoring our healthcare heroes.
We are #DevereuxStrong
Look below to watch a video of Devereux Arizona’s fun and uplifting team building dance.
Managing time more effectively
In this video, Devereux Center for Resilient Children Early Childhood Specialist and National Trainer Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D., explains the Pomodoro Technique, a time management tool that uses a timer to break down work into intervals.
Doing something kind for someone else
Nurturing social connections
The importance of rules
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