Staff Member of the Month

October 2017

posted Oct 26, 2017, 9:54 AM by Swan, Vivian

Congratulations to Gina Ward, Supported Housing Manager, for being selected as the staff member of the month.   The Supported Housing staff nominated their manager Gina Ward as employee of the month. Gina is very committed to her staff and the Supported Housing program. She is always looking for ways to improve the program. Her staff would like her to know how much they appreciate all her hard work.

Scott tells all the work Gina puts in as Supported Housing manager. She manages 125 beds and 10 staff over 3 counties. She has also taken on new HCBS program currently approaching 20 clients and adding Allegany County to area served, growing waaaay faster than anybody thought it would. She is highly involved with Continuum of Care for Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Co. - the continuums are responsible for application, oversight and execution of HUD grants. She is involved with the Chautauqua County Homeless Coalition and Cattaraugus County Homeless Coalition.  She is co-chair of the Supported Housing sub-group of regional ACL meetings, and a board member of the Cattaraugus County Community Action.

I have been working with Gina and the Supported Housing Staff for 4 years. In those years, I have seen Gina’s exceptional leadership skills. If a staff member is in need, she is always there to lend her support. She listens nonjudgmentally and often asks for staff’s feedback.  I appreciate how she will ask me if I am willing or comfortable in doing certain task and not just assume I will do it.   She always gives staff recognition for a job well done. She always takes a negative situation and turns it into a positive one. The quality I love most is her compassion and understanding. She realizes staff members have lives outside of work and helps to accommodate them when she can. It is a pleasure to be part of the Supported Housing team. Janet Stowell

In the short time that I've been here I've come to understand that I can come to Gina about things that have been uncomfortable and trust that she will not only support but unconditionally understands and at no moment have I felt judged. Natalie

Gina Ward is the manager of The Supported Housing program in Jamestown. She has been a solid rock to her staff as well our consumers.  Gina is well known for great leadership, work ethic, positive attitude, and diligence.  Just recently on a Saturday morning while Gina had off, she learned one of our consumer’s apartment building had a fire overnight.  This consumer was evacuated from her apartment until further notice by the fire dept.  This client had nowhere else to go so she went to Tim Horton’s at 4 am to rest.  After learning this, without a drop of a dime, Gina went to this consumer’s aid immediately and returned with the consumer to her apartment building to gather information from the Fire Dept.  Gina was informed the fire was small but the electric is going to be down a few days. Gina assisted this consumer gathering her personal belongings then brought her to the Supported Housing office for shelter.  In the consumer’s own words ‘’ I can’t thank Gina enough ‘’this consumer is grateful and happy to have a family who cares even when they are off the clock.  Throughout the time I’ve known Gina, she has shown me time and again that she is a positive, motivated leader with amazing potential. We all work 40 hours a week, but what Gina does for her staff and the consumers is way above her job title and then some.  Please Join Supported Housing staff congratulating Gina on being nominated Employee of the month. Ina Wright

Thank you Gina for your on-going support and preparation for my annual audit with Erie County. Audits are never fun, but having Gina's support throughout the process is extremely helpful.  Willie Tell

Gina goes beyond being just a supervisor with her aiding her staff with problems that come up in daily routine of Supported Housing. Whether the crisis is personal or client related she always has the time day or night. She listens to staff input to problems and is good in giving advice on how to correct a situation. This is why she deserves to be staff person of the month. Bill Kaiser

I can honestly say that Gina can turn a "sticky situation" into a manageable one. Gina uses her sense of humor as well as her management skills to make her staff experience "got your back" syndrome, in a way that is reassuring, yet correcting. Thank you Gina for being there for all of us. 



posted Sep 26, 2017, 6:22 AM by Swan, Vivian

Debbie Welka has been the Housekeeper for over two years at STM.  As the Housekeeper, she do a great job of keeping 24 rooms neat, clean, laundry completed, etc.  Debbie also informs the Administrator whenever there are special needs in the house or maintenance problems that need to be called in that she cannot address herself.  Not only does she clean, but Debbie manages to take residents to appointments, advocates for their care when there are special circumstances, and makes sure that any needs are addressed with the Administrator. Debbie recently made sure that two clients, who were having problems, were taken to their doctor appointments.  She worked with their providers to ensure they had the assistance and interventions they needed. Debbie will come to the Administrator on a regular basis and indicate any concerns she has for the clients.  Debbie is quick to respond when there is an unplanned outing or a doctor’s appointment that Carts cannot transport.  She always does so with no problem, and is willing to help. Debbie is a great team player and a good advocate for our residents.   Congratulations!



posted Aug 30, 2017, 8:37 AM by Swan, Vivian

Ashley Switzer, Project Manager, is the staff member of the month for all the hard work and time she has put in for the Affordable Housing Department.  STEL was approved funding from the Department of Housing and Community Renewal for the Dunkirk Renovation & Ownership project (DRO). She has also been actively helping the tenants in the DRO project  get alternative housing so the closing and construction can begin on that project.  Ashley also worked very hard to find emergency housing for two families that were displaced due to a fire at one of the buildings STEL is going to use in the DRO project.  Ashley has been very busy this summer submitting applications.  She  was instrumental in getting out three Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative applications for STEL DRO, Gateway Lofts, and the Salamanca Supportive Apartments. She also worked on the NEXTGENERATION application to the NY City Housing Authority to build Twin Parks North by Northeast.  Ashley has gone above and beyond in working with all the projects, dealing with the tenants, landlords, architects, and contractors.  Congratulations!


July 2017

posted Aug 9, 2017, 5:44 AM by Swan, Vivian

Emily Garey is staff member of the month in recognition of the remarkable job she has done since being selected to manage  the Aldrich Street Community Residence and the Gowanda Treatment Apartment program.  Emily's ability to recognize and cultivate the  unique  interests and skills of the residents and staff  has effectuated a renewed sense of hope at the program.  Her interactions with residents are always honest and direct, but  allows for flexibility when it serves the individual needs of the person.  Her exemplary work ethic and genuine dedication is evidenced in her willingness to work long shifts, weekends, overnights, and to field any and all calls after work hours. Under Emily's brief leadership, the Aldrich Street program has grown into a stable and active community residence, where personalized care and support is offered every day. I am pleased to recognize Emily as someone who demonstrates outstanding service to our consumers and employees. Nominated by Bob Roth.


JUNE 2017

posted Jun 29, 2017, 1:09 PM by Swan, Vivian

Amber Hubbard White, Accountant, recently completed a very lengthy and detailed report that Southern Tier Meadows needed for a recertification. This took hours of Amber's time and it was very involved. It required going over several times. Amber was able to finish this report in the time necessary to file it. Not only did Amber achieve this, but also in day-to-day operations, Amber is always patient and understanding when staff call with a problem or need a copy of a ledger or payout. No matter what time of day or the week, Amber is hard at work to complete any paperwork needed, and she does it right away. You know when you ask her for something that it will be ready as soon as possible. I think Amber should be nominated for her hard work and dedication.  Congratulations Amber for a job well done! Also, congratulations on your marriage to Jeff White on June 17, 2017.


May 2017

posted May 30, 2017, 1:16 PM by Swan, Vivian

Lori Karalus, RM of JTAP is the staff member of the month.  Stacey Thomas wrote, I have many reasons for wanting to nominate Lori, but I feel that her compassion for our residents and our Mission Statement, speak volumes.  As most of you know, the Consumer Council Meeting is held every other month at JTAP.  Lori always assures that she cooks a wonderful lunch with dessert for our consumers to enjoy during the meeting.  Every month, we hold a Resident Meeting with our residents and Lori goes all out to cook them a home-cooked meal.  Lori doesn't just order pizza or throw some lunch meat on a tray, she comes in bright and early and starts to prepare a nice meal with dessert.  Keep in mind, that every other month the Consumer Council Meeting and Resident meeting are in the same week so Lori cooks two days in a row.  I think what really sticks out for me though, is what Lori does for the holidays.  I'm pretty sure most programs prepare dinners on all the major holidays, but Lori goes above and beyond for our guys.  She comes in at the crack of dawn and begins to prepare a feast with all the trimmings.  Lori's famous words, "nobody should have to spend the holidays without family or a good meal." Lori prepares a meal that all our residents rave about. She sets the table, rolls the silverware, places centerpieces on the table and then puts all the food out so that it appears just like you were at home...desserts included.  Lori even goes as far as to tell our guys that if they have family or friends who will be alone on the holidays, to bring them to our dinner, as Lori does not want anyone to be by themselves.  For Easter, we enjoyed the company of another resident from another program.  It really is all about family to Lori and it shows in all she does for our residents and other residents as well.  I am so motivated and driven by the love and compassion that Lori has shown since I have worked for JTAP.  Lori truly exemplifies what STEL is all about, and I am proud to work for such an amazing woman.   Congratulations!


April 2017

posted Apr 24, 2017, 9:03 AM by Swan, Vivian   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 9:04 AM ]

Linda Howland, RC at the Wellsville CR is employee of the month.  Michele wrote, wow it’s hard to believe Linda has been employed with STEL for 20 years.  It just seems like yesterday when she started.  Linda will be retiring from her full time RC position after 4/25/17.  It is really hard to sum up everything she has meant to the residents and staff at the WLSV CR.  Linda is such a kindhearted, caring individual, who has always put forth her best effort to meet the needs of our CR residents, as well as the residents in the WLSV apartment and SRO programs.  As many employees in STEL can attest to, you never know what you’re walking into when you come to work.  Linda is unflappable and could easily adapt to situations as they arose.  Linda’s calm, steadying presence diffused many crisis situations through the years, which could have easily escalated into critical situations.  Linda has always offered support and inspiration to her coworkers.  Linda is planning to stay on staff in Wellsville as a part time staff person, and her wisdom and knowledge will continue to be a benefit to our residents and staff.  We wish her the best with her retirement, as she is very deserving!  Congratulations!


March 2017

posted Mar 29, 2017, 9:36 AM by Swan, Vivian   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 7:58 AM by Wasiewicz, Mark ]

Marie Moore, RC at the Olean Treatment Apartment program, is a highly valued team member who routinely goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure her residents' safety. 

In February, Marie independently conducted address checks, phone number checks and researched the sex offender registry in another state after an OTAP resident stated that a "friend" had purchased a ticket for her to go visit her in Florida, but refused to provide staff with a contact number or address where she would be going. Marie was able to track this resident's ticket by calling the Buffalo airport, who provided her with the name of the individual and flight information for our resident. Because of Marie's research, we learned that our resident's ticket was purchased by a registered sex offender in Florida. Marie spent countless hours in intervention with this particular client, and while the situation is still ongoing, she continues to dedicate a great deal of time to this client in hopes that she will decide not to go on this trip. This situation is one of many examples I can think of when Marie has taken initiative and thought outside of the box to make sure our OTAP residents are not only safe, but receiving services tailored to their individual needs. 

I consider it an honor to supervise Marie and consider her an indispensable part of our team. Congratulations!

Submitted by Tina Capito


February 2017

posted Feb 28, 2017, 8:15 AM by Swan, Vivian   [ updated Feb 28, 2017, 8:16 AM ]

Jill Schmidt is employed as a Health Home Care Manager and oversees a large caseload throughout Cattaraugus County. Jill works in a professional manner with consumers and her interactions are always honest and direct, but allow for flexibility when it serves the individual needs of the person. Jill has a keen sense of understanding and awareness of the various psycho-physical-social needs of the individuals she serves and takes a genuine interest in improving their health. Jill has recently completed training on the NYS Eligibility Assessment, the NYS Community Mental Health Full Assessment and Plan of Care instruments which certifies her as a Home and Community Based (HCBS) assessor. Jill will be working closely with Managed Care Companies to finalize a person-centered Plan of Care which meets federal and state requirements. Bob Roth believes Jill has seized the HCBS assessor designation with vigor and resolve, and I am pleased to recognize Jill as someone who demonstrates outstanding service to the STEL agency.  Congratulations!


January 2017

posted Jan 30, 2017, 7:59 AM by Swan, Vivian

Elisha Gerholdt has been employed by STEL for nine years.  She started out working with JTAP as a counselor, but has spent the majority of her employment as Jamestown's SRO counselor.  Elisha has been an extremely dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring employee since the time she was hired.  Elisha has established a nice balance between being supportive and understanding, and being firm when she needs to be.  Elisha always takes the time to work through day to day struggles with her clients, and is constantly developing new strategies to help her clients maximize their independence.  Recently, Elisha dedicated several hours (at work and at home) to developing a plan that ensured that the SRO client's transportation needs were being met, while also limiting the dependence the clients had on staff transportation.  Elisha first called Medical Transportation for the nearly 30 clients currently in the SRO program.  She determined which clients were eligible, and made a separate plan for the few that were ineligible.  SRO staff are currently working with each individual in the program 1:1 to show the process and procedure of calling and planning medical transportation as a result.  Elisha was also able to adjust the weekly grocery run schedule to make the weekly outings more convenient for the staff transporting, while simultaneously ensuring that all of the clients had an equal number of opportunities to attend each month.  Elisha has also come up with new activity ideas and is present at nearly ever SRO or STEL event.  Elisha has also attended important community events with residents such as: The Out of Darkness Walk and The Walk to End Alzheimer's.  Elisha even drove residents in the STEL van in last year's Christmas Parade!  Elisha's never ending desire to improve the SRO program and client's lives positively promotes STEL in the community. Congratulations Elisha and thank you for everything you do! 


1-10 of 77