TUNKHANNOCK — Keystone Community Resources always puts people first.
“Everything Keystone does, as a whole, is completely centered around the individual and creating a better life for them by giving them opportunities they never dreamed of having,” Tunkhannock Program Manager Kristie Baker said of the privately owned organization which serves the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Tangible success in action
Baker witnessed several residents make strides through programs and guidance provided by the staff.
“There are two folks who stick out to me who have had a very difficult history and there weren’t a lot of people who were still willing to give them a chance,” Baker said. “We looked at it as a challenge and we’ve supported them.”
As a result of training through Keystone Community Resources, the individuals were recognized by Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Mental Health & Development Services at a Celebration of Abilities event this past June at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock.
“Being part of Keystone has brought me a sense of pride for our individuals and what they have been able to accomplish,” said Director of Community and Employment Partnerships Dean White.
The mission of the organization is to provide people with developmental disabilities diverse opportunities that lead to fulfilling lives.
“The services we offer definitely give them a reason to get up every day,” Baker said. “Whether it’s coming here to work or participate in an art, music or bakery class, we offer such a wide variety of services,” Baker said. “It gives them something to look forward to every single day. It could be as simple as seeing friends they meet through the programs.”
One of the most poignant moments for Baker during her time at Keystone was when the individuals with disabilities received their first pay checks.
“It was quite a party,” she said. “They were just blown away with how much more they could actually make.”
Keystone’s Tunkhannock office opened in August 2004 and, although it was initially met with uncertainty, it has proven to be a valuable asset to the community.
“When Keystone moved into Wyoming County, there were a lot of folks who were a little hesitant because they hadn’t heard of us before but, in very short order, we made a very positive impact,” Baker said.
The organization is making a big push to prepare individuals for community employment through its supportive employment program.
“We’re encouraging local businesses to give us a chance by letting us come into their business and show them what our folks can do,” Baker said. “We did a presentation with the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce and we’re also talking to the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Club.”
According to Baker, when given the opportunity, Keystone’s workers have excelled in various assignments.
“So far, we’ve been very widely accepted,” she said. “Everyone that has given us a chance with bulk mailings and other tasks has been very pleased. We’ve kind of gone above and beyond what they expected as far as quality, timeliness and pricing.”
According to Baker, many aspects of her job are rewarding on a daily basis.
“There was a need for these services for a long time in this area,” she said. “It’s fulfilling to know we’re creating a positive and lucrative work environment for the individuals, and see everyone so happy and content.”
In addition to preparing individuals for the workforce, Keystone Community Resources also helps them develop social skills.
“We’ve had some folks come in who were afraid to say a word and were very shy because they didn’t know anybody,” Baker said. “Two weeks later, they’ve found their best friend and are going full force in a music class.”
Real life experience
In the bakery class, in addition to learning how to make a variety of items, the individuals also learn how to wash dishes, stock shelves, price and label items and learn proper kitchen etiquette.
“The class gives them the ability to learn skills that can be adapted to so many different jobs,” Baker said.
Carol Fulkersin, 44, of Tunkhannock, has worked in the bakery of Keystone Konfections for a little more than a year and has already found a niche in the kitchen. She enjoys baking pies, cookies and brownies.
“I’ve learned how to roll the dough back and forth, and we have a list on the wall of all the job duties each day,” she said.
Fulkersin felt a sense of pride when Keystone Konfections was chosen as the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Keystone College Cupcake Challenge last February.
“It made me feel proud and happy,” she said. “I showed the whole staff the award on the wall.”
Karen Frey, 38, of Tunkhannock, enjoys stocking shelves, cleaning and making peanut butter pies in the bakery.
“I can make it completely by myself,” she said of making the specialty pie. “I’ve learned how to be more independent with different things and I’m learning how to do things by myself.”
Frey’s self confidence has also been boosted through participating in many of the programs Keystone offers.
“I’m just so proud of myself that I can come to work, do my job and be happy,” she said. “I just love Keystone. If we don’t have work up in production, they make sure we have stuff to do and keep us busy.”
Best in show
Each of the artists enrolled in classes at ArtWorks Tunkhannock participated in the Wyoming County Fair last year. One individual placed first and many others placed in the top five from among the general public.
“I’m impressed by everything they make, everything they experience for the first time and their overall excitement for the programs,” art instructor Kaitlin Bobrovcan said.
Their art was also featured in a show at the Dietrich Theater prior to Christmas and the artists earned a commission for each item sold.
“The support from the community was awesome,” Baker said. “We were selling artwork left and right.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.
99 Bridge Street Tunkhannock PA
Disabilities Didn't Get Us Down
The entire month of November at
The Dietrich Theatre
60 E Tioga St, Tunkhannock PA
Join us for a Meet- the- Artists reception:
Sunday, November 22nd, 3-5PM
Free and open to the public !
"We celebrate the artist in each of us through fine art instruction, gallery exhibitions and a variety of special programs in the arts."
The Glen Oaks Country Club, located in the heart of the Abingtons, served as the perfect backdrop to honor two staff--Mawrie Residence Program Manager, Corrine Gregorsky, and Staff Development Specialist (and former lead staff at Mawrie), Robert (Bob) Getz with Big Heart Awards. They were recognized for acts of heroism and courage in saving the life of program Participant Mike U. who had a serious choking incident.
Equally worthy and also receiving a Big Heart Award, was Family Living Provider, Kim Gooden, whose decision to continue to serve family living client Donna H., and to ask her to remain in her home as a part of her family despite funding being eliminated, touched the hearts and stirred rousing applause from the crowd of people attending the event.
The event was held as part of Keystone’s HR Ambassador Day. Many of the guests in attendance were Managers, Coordinators, Directors and Senior Directors.
“Character and choices” was the theme of a speech presented by Participant Safety Sub-Committee Chairman, Dean White. Corrine and Bob showed their character when they did everything in their power to save Mike’s life. They acted consistent with their character, and from that character they made the right choices, and gave their all to save a life, a very special and precious life. Thanks to them, Mike U. is still with us today.
For Kim Gooden, it was a matter of choosing between one state’s funding-driven plan to move Donna H. out of her home, where she had lived for 4 ½ years with a family who cared for and loved her, to a group home, in a different state, and many miles away to reside with people she did not know or to choose for Donna to remain with her family, despite the fact that funding would be stopped. Beyond believing it was “the right thing to do”, Kim knew in her heart and spoke from her conscience that Donna was part of her family and Kim asked that Donna remain regardless of the loss of compensation for her care.
Corrine and Bob were nominated by Jorja Sukowaski , Director of Keystone’s Nursing and Health Services Department. Jorja read her nomination to Corrine and Bob. Keystone’s President, Laura Brown-Yadlosky, and Jorja, then presented Corrine and Bob with their awards.
John Bershefsky , Family Living Coordinator, nominated Kim Gooden and read his nomination to her at the event. Laura Brown Yadlosky and John then presented the award to Kim.
In addition to their awards, Bob, Corrine, and Kim, each received a Keystone Community Resources jacket, and each will receive a new badge heralding them as Big Heart Award Winners. Keystone Konfections provided a delicious cake and cookies and everyone celebrated with the honorees. When you see Kim, Corrine, or Bob in your travels, please thank them for having Big Hearts and for letting their good character shine through with choices that clearly showed how much they care.
The Board of Directors of Keystone Community Resources is pleased to announce the election of Laura Brown-Yadlosky as President.
Brown-Yadlosky joined Keystone in 2000 as the Executive Director of the Children and Youth program. She has held positions of Chief Administrative Officer, Vice President of Programs and Services, and for the past 3 years serving as Chief Operating Officer. Her commitment and devotion to the field of human services is unwavering and she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience into her new position.
Brown-Yadlosky resides in Tunkhannock with her husband, Justin and 3 children.
Bill Teitsworth: PAR Direct Support Professional of the Year Award
November 13, 2014, Harrisburg – Scranton artist Bill Teitsworth was recognized by PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability) as recipient of its Direct Support Professional of the Year Award for his 40+ years of outstanding dedication to the support of individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism. Mr. Teitsworth was honored as part of PAR’s 2014 Solutions Conference in Harrisburg this week, an event which drew over 450 participants.
“This award honors a direct care staff person employed by a PAR member organization who has shown extraordinary determination and success in empowering individuals with intellectual disability or autism to lead fulfilling and enriching lives,” explained Kathy Brown-McHale, CEO of SPIN, Inc. and Vice Chair of PAR’s Board of Directors.
This honor was bestowed upon Mr. Teitsworth for bringing his love for the arts to the individuals he serves. Early in his career, Teitsworth realized the need for a creative outlet for the people with disabilities he supported, and recognized their unlimited potential for developing artistic talent. He decided to share his love of the arts with the people he served by creating, teaching, and maintaining classes in the fine arts for individuals who may have never had the opportunity to express themselves creatively.
Not only did he create and teach art classes, but he helped his students achieve full integration into the local art community through shows at local Scranton art galleries. He now is the lead coordinator for Keystone Community Resources’ Artworks Gallery and Studio, a program that would not exist without him. Through this program, Keystone’s artists have received recognition at the local, state and national levels. One of Teitsworth’s students, Ethan Gerber, was the recipient of PAR’s Everyday Images Award in 2013. Many of his other students continue to find their voices through the creation and sharing of their artwork.
Mr. Teitsworth and his fellow 2014 awards recipients exemplify the theme of this year’s conference, “From caring comes courage.”
Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR) is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to strengthening the capacity of its membership to provide person-centered services to Pennsylvanians with intellectual disability and/or autism. PAR member organizations support over 50,000 individuals with intellectual disability as well as over 8,000 people with autism in over 8,400 locations in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit www.par.net.
Celebrating Lucille Pietrocarlo, Program Manager of Bryn Mawr
On November 19, 2014, Bryn Mawr Residence was the setting for our most recent Big Heart Award celebration. Residential Coordinator, Trish Filipski, nominated Program Manager, Lucille Pietrcarlo. Lucille has worked at various group homes throughout her years at Keystone.
Currently, Lucille is the Program Manager of Bryn Mawr. It must be noted that Lucille has made such an impact on her co-workers; they all agreed that Lucille deserved to be awarded the Big Heart Award. Trish spoke of Lucille’s hard work and dedication.
A consumer who resided at Bryn Mawr was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. During that time, Lucille provided support, guidance, and compassion to everyone in the home. Lucille would visit this consumer each and every day while he was in the hospital, bringing him small gifts to make his day a little brighter. During this time, Lucille continued to ensure that the needs of the rest of the men at Bryn Mawr were met. Lucille would prepared special dinners and planned community activities that the men looked forward to. Congratulations Lucille and Thank You for all you do.
Community Big Heart Award
Looking for a place to take your people out for a great meal? There's no better place in town than Linda Kay's Ole Green Ridge Restaurant! They serve wonderful food at a great price and provide exceptional service, especially to the people we serve.
On October 14, 2014, Linda Kay was awarded Keystone's first Community Big Heart Award to recognize and honor her consistent care and exceptional quality service to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Many Keystone employees and program participants are frequent customers at Linda Kay's During the award ceremony held at the Restaurant, Myrna Watkins, Supported Living Coach for Keystone offered her testimony about how Linda Kay's treat their customers; stating, "Everyone at Linda Kay's are very kind to us. Their service is excellent and their food is like home cooking."
Linda Kay and her staff conveyed their gratitude for this special award and expressed their appreciation for the business that individuals in community residences and supported living and their staff bring to their establishment. Linda's restaurant is operated by many of her family and she treats her patrons like family as well.
The Community Big Heart Award is presented by Keystone Community Resources to recognize local individuals and businesses who have demonstrated excellence in treating people with dignity and respect. Linda Kay was nominated by Keystone staff and she was selected by the Participant Safety Sub-Committee for the prevention of abuse and neglect.
Linda Kay's Ole Green Ridge Restaurant is located at 1809 Sanderson Ave. Scranton Pa. Phone 570-343-1378. Open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m to 2 p.m and Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Big Heart Award is presented to Keystone Staff and individuals or businesses in the community by nominations from Keystone staff and the people we serve.
Keystone Konfections Bakery Assistant, Nicole Tugend,left, and Bakery Manager, Linda Brown, whip up creative cakes and treats in the kitchen.
Keystone Konfections aims to satisfy Tunkhannock’s sweet tooth.
Located inside Keystone Community Resources on Bridge Street, the bakery will hold its grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Linda Brown, bakery manager at Keystone Konfections, shares the idea behind the bakery.
Click on the photo to read the entire article.
STAFF PHOTO/BRITTNEY LOPES
During June, Keystone had the honor of presenting the newest recipient of the “Have a Heart” Award.
Ellen Edmondson, R. N. – Quality Assurance Nursing Coordinator:
Ellen was nominated for going above and beyond in her daily sacrifice to the people that live and work at Keystone. She’s been described by her co-workers as kind, caring, friendly, and always willing to help others with anything they may need.
Ellen has been described as the medical voice for those who cannot advocate for themselves. She is dedicated to ensuring the individuals we serve receive the most thorough and effective medical treatment possible. It’s this dedication and commitment that has earned Ellen the admiration of her co-workers, and selection as a Have a Heart Award recipient. Congratulations Ellen…..we are grateful for the work you do.
Ellen is seen here with Ann Slack, Program Coordinator at PEP, one of the individuals nominating her for the award, and Laura Brown-Yadlosky, Executive Director of Keystone Community Resouces.