The Arc/Morris honored 18 community members and workers at its annual event for their exceptional service and dedication in helping people with disabilities and their families cope with Covid-19 during the past year
“The pandemic also forced us to find the best in each of us. We discovered that an everyday hero happens to be a health-care worker… or a direct support professional working at Arc/Morris,” Salvador Moran, CEO and executive director of The Arc/Morris said.
“There were many examples of staff putting their personal and family aside to continue to provide essential services to the people we support.”
More than 50 people attended the May 19 event at the Loretta and Julius Krauklis Center in Mt. Olive, which was Live-streamed so those who could not be there in person could watch remotely.
The Arc/Morris announced that its annual distinguished service award was renamed after William R. Testa of Kearny, who retired as executive director after 38 years of service in the organization.
The community member awards:
- Professional of the Year Joshua Godown of Phillipsburg, support coordinator and team leader for Bridges Supports Coordination, LLC of Philipsburg Godown, in his four years in this position, has stood out for his attentive, responsive respectful and patient work in ensuring access to services for the vulnerable population Arc/Morris supports.
- Teacher of the Year Samantha Corzo, Celebrate the Children, Denville Corzo, of Hopatcong, has taught at the school for six years and currently works with students who are 8 to 11 years old who are on the spectrum or who have alternative learning abilities.
- Guardianship Service Award Devin Walsh, guardian specialist, Bureau of Guardianship Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services, Office of Legal & Regulatory Affairs. Walsh has spent 20 years in this position, enhancing the lives of his wards and advocating for their rights. He serves as the court-appointed guardian for 11 individuals living in Arc/Morris residences.
- Bill Sackter Citizenship Award James H. Schleck, Morristown, resident at the Ketch Road Supervised Apartment program since 1993 This award recognizes those who have prevailed over the difficulties presented by their disabilities to become members of their communities bringing positive change. Schleck works at Employment Horizons in Cedar Knolls.
- Health Care Professional Ward Dr. Rachana Chaudhari, Pharmacy Manager at Walmart, Boonton Dr. Chaudhari of Boonton coordinated and facilitated Covid-19 vaccinations for the people Arc/Morris supports as well as its workers.
- The William R. Testa Distinguished Service Award Steve Somich, served with Arc/Morris since 1984, including as Treasurer for the past 10 years. His hometown is Saratoga Springs, NY.
- Distinguished Caregiver Award Gail Paradise of Wharton, NJ, Assistant Executive Director at Arc/Morris Paradise celebrated 40 years of service at Arc/Morris on May 4.
The Arc/Morris also initiated several awards this year to honor 11 staff members for their dedication and service.
“They have led a life of service and showed how much they care about the people we support,” Naira Aslanyan, Arc/Morris’ chief operating officer, said in announcing the awards.
The staff honorees are:
Outstanding Direct Support Professional
- Faith Ezekunne of Union, skill instructor at High Avenue Group Home
- Denise Haynes of Basking Ridge, skill instructor at Drakesville Supervised Apartment Program
- Olukunle “Joe” Ojutalayo of Newark, skill instructor at Overlook Group Home
- Shakirat Osunkoya of Roselle, assistant manager at Mountain Avenue Group Home
- Iyabo Shobitan of Victory Gardens, skill Instructor at Mt. Olive Group Home
- Elaine Walker of Budd Lake, skill Instructor at Washington Group Home
Management Effectiveness Award
- Leticia Asamoah of Union, manager of Randolph Group Home
- Devin Moss of Alpha, supervisor of the Flanders Adult Training Center
- Patrice Best of Morristown, manager at Drakesville Supervised Apartment Program
Service Excellence Award
- Rachel Candido of Newton, staff training coordinator
- Diana Silver of Bushkill, PA., assistant director of the Residential Department
To view pictures from the event, click here.