Benchmark Blog
BENCHMARK BLOG

Third Quarter Thrive – July, 2021

Jul 08, 2021
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to the electronic edition of Thrive, the Benchmark employee newsletter. Enjoy, and please share any stories you would like to include in a future issue with Courtney Heiser or Simon May!


Motion vs. Action

Next Steps for Ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Benchmark

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark President

“The difference between motion and action. Motion feels like progress. Action is progress.”

Action:
– do 10 squats
– write 1 sentence
– meditate for 1 minute

Motion:
– talk to a personal trainer
– research your book idea
– explore different types of meditation

One of things I strive for is progress, both my own and Benchmark’s. It has been over 13 months since the death of George Floyd inspired a swell of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It also created an urgency within Benchmark to ensure our practices lead to a just and equitable environment for everyone. We formed a Diversity Committee which has been working hard towards that goal. Within that group, our Chairperson, Antoinette Thornton, has continued her growth and become Dr. Antoinette Thornton with a Ph. D. in Advanced Studies of Human Behavior. We have also had approximately 70 employees enrolled in Diversity Awareness cohorts having some tough discussions about diversity, inclusion, perceptions, and validation of other people’s ideas. In August, we will have another 160 people start that 6 month journey.

The question is whether the work we have done thus far is motion or action. We absolutely want to be doing both, and that starts with you – our staff. We want to know what all of you are thinking about where Benchmark stands in terms of inclusion, diversity, equity, and helping move all the people we serve and the staff who serve them towards their ultimate potential. We have a goal to have all of you participate in an anonymous survey to address some of these issues and your feelings about them. That survey should be ready by August, and I would like as many of you as possible to participate, and participate with your true thoughts.

The importance of hearing your truth is that it will drive our efforts and create a focus for our Committee as we work towards building true progress. Please take the time to participate when the opportunity comes and let us know your thoughts and feelings. Thanks you for all you do to make Benchmark the unique place it is.

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization.”

– Pat Wadors


Coming Home to Roost

Our Montana Group Homes program has some new residents! In May of this year, individuals from our programs in Big Sky Country welcomed several baby chicks into a newly constructed roost in their backyard. They also added to their vegetable garden, which is growing 4 years strong this season, and have planted fruit trees and berry bushes. This year they are growing cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, blueberries, red bell peppers, jalapeños, peas, and green beans, but the chickens are the main attraction!

The team received their chickens just after they hatched and raised them in the garage for a few months, until they were big enough to be outside in their coop. They have been a lot of fun to watch grow, and the group has really enjoyed taking care of them.

Kalen likes that the chickens are going to lay eggs; Victor is looking forward eating the eggs; and JD and Mikey enjoy the garden as much as the chickens. JD likes to garden because he has a green thumb and calls himself the gardening king. Mikey loves to feed the chickens and names them. “They help keep me calm when I get upset. I like to garden because it’s fun to pick your own vegetables.”


Diversity Committee Updates

To date, approximately 70 Benchmark employees have participated in diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) training with an external trainer, Alonzo Kelly. Beginning in August, another 140+ employees will participate. The Committee is working to put together a 3-5 year strategic plan outlining our DE&I initiatives and action items. That plan will be shared widely with all employees when it is complete. If you have any questions for the Diversity Committee please feel free to email us at diversityinclusion@BenchmarkHS.com. We also welcome your input as to initiatives you’d like to see the Committee and the organization tackle.

Please take a moment to read Doug Beebe’s column in this issue of Thrive above.


Summer Sun on Social Media

You know, you don’t have to wait until Thrive comes out to see some great photos of the individuals we serve from all over the country! Follow us on social media, just search Benchmark Human Services on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, if you would like to share any photos you’ve taken of or with the individuals in your area on social media, please send them to Simon May!

 











A Brief and Meaningful Encounter

Over the past serval months, a contractor, George Baker, worked remodeling an empty home located two doors down from where Dwayne, an individual Benchmark serves in Ohio, lives. Dwayne ventured down one day and talked to George. After a few visits, Dwayne went into the house, grabbed the Shop Vac and started sweeping. Dwayne is very energetic and enjoyed being with George and doing some meaningful, helpful work.

George taught Dwayne how to install outlet covers. Dwayne also helped install a bathroom shower. During their time together, Dwayne and George found common interests: cars, motorcycles, and music. George periodically gave Dwayne Hot Wheels, car calendars and always, full control of the work radio (occasionally having to turn down the volume).

At Benchmark, we strive for community integration, natural supports and friendships, exploring interests and independence. Dwayne found that with the labor and with George. George happens to be a good friend of our Ohio Director, Ryan Knodel, they’ve built decks, roofed, and sided houses together. His heart is big. He took the time with Dwayne, was patient, and most importantly, he and Dwayne connected. Unfortunately, Dwayne is moving and George completed the job, but Ryan believes the impact, of even a brief few weeks, will last for both men.


Meet Sarah Chestnut, Director of Development Strategies

In spring 2021, Sarah Chestnut joined Benchmark as Director of Development Strategies. Chestnut holds a master’s degree in social work with a concentration on Leadership from Indiana University. She spent the last six years working in the area of public policy and technical assistance, most recently as Director of Public Policy and Technical Assistance, for the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (INARF), Indiana’s principal membership organization representing providers of services to people with disabilities. She has also worked for the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the Marion County Public Defender Agency, and Stone Belt Arc, Inc.

As Director of Development Strategies at Benchmark, Chestnut leads business development initiatives including crafting procurement proposals and identifying other opportunities for expansion, developing targeted marketing tools and strategies, and participating in marketing outreach activities.

“Sarah’s deep knowledge of public policy and Medicaid systems, as well as her experience working in the field of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD), makes her a great fit to help lead Benchmark’s efforts for future growth,” said Jeff Cross, President of Public Solutions.


Movin’ On Up!

Below is a list of employees who were promoted in April, May, and June and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!

 

Indiana
Tara Day, RN
Mary Brown, Supported Living Supervisor
Monique Nzumpatse, Supported Living Manager
Paula Spall, Benefits Administrator
Jean Beausoleil, Team Leader
Kanisha Brantley, Team Leader
Jennifer Ryan, Industrial Operations Team Lead
Ethan Oakes, Mentor
Jeremy Joyner, Supported Living Manager
Margaret Miller, Supported Living Supervisor
Danee Reese, Day Services Supervisor
Wendy Tozier, Supported Living Manager
Rocky Anderson, Supported Living Manager
Nsengiyumva Rutsobe, Residential Manager
Angela Walker, Supported Living Manager
Jerri Jones, Supported Living Manager
Lynnay Anderson, Program Coordinator
Pearl Heffner, Supported Living Manager
Beth Bergen, Activities Coordinator
Paige DeCook, Lead Program Coordinator

Georgia
Ricketta McCoy, Licensed Clinical Staff
Kristen Tamargo, Crisis Zone Leader

Maryland
Amy Barnett, Day Program Coordinator
Kristin Lertora, Job Coach

Missouri
Edward Baker, Supported Living Manager

New Jersey
Mignon Boone, LPN

Ohio
Nikki Cotterman, Program Manager
Amanda Quillen, Team Leader
Deanna Burden, Team Leader
Kristina Fought, Team Leader
Shannah Schnur, Team Leader
Shae Hines, Team Leader

Virginia
Amy McNiel, Clinical Specialist


Milestones

Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for July, August, and September, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.

 

Adelina Zavala – 5
Alexis Sorlie – 5
Angela Nelson-Williams – 5
Ashlee Okane – 5
Babila Mba – 5
Bernadette Bill – 5
Christopher Diehl – 5
Cindy Stolte Brown – 5
Cleta Griffin – 5
Cynthia Hughes – 5
Daisy Johnston – 5
Darius Williams – 5
David Foncannon – 5
Edward Dahlkamp – 5
Elisa Della Ventura – 5
Hazel Lamerce – 5
Heather Maas – 5
Janet Swanson – 5
Jeanne Smith – 5
Jennifer Andersen – 5
Jennifer Bush – 5
Joy Scholten – 5
Joyce Aaron – 5
Juliet Ihedike – 5
Kalan Phinezy – 5
Kenneth Keegan – 5
Kenneth MacCutcheon – 5
Latoya Hunt – 5
Martha Byar – 5
Martha Landry – 5
Martha Williams – 5
Melinda Anders – 5
Merlande Deravil – 5
Misty Austin – 5
Nadine McCall Jones – 5
Nancy Westmoreland – 5
Nicole Ives – 5
Norma Jackson – 5
Portia Lewis – 5
Richard Adams – 5
Robert Kirkwood – 5
Sharlet Davis-Sandles – 5
Shonta Hazel – 5
Stephanie Dennis – 5
Summer Gerry – 5
Tiana Gaddis – 5
Anna Geething – 6
Annette Powers Kilburn – 6
Anthony Zephy – 6
Ashley King – 6
Brandy Fraiser Crawford – 6
Brenda Reynolds – 6
Consuelo Rojas – 6
Cynthia Doenges – 6
Emily Grohnke – 6
Jakia Artis – 6
Jessie Bryant – 6
Joanna Gallagher – 6
Kameisha Johnson – 6
Kelly Kroeger – 6
Laura Kauffman – 6
Lisa Hendrix – 6
Marie Fisher – 6
Miriam Sisay – 6
Robertson Asamoah – 6
Rosena Roberts – 6
Samuel Hunt – 6
Seola Dunbar – 6
Sharon Hill – 6
Shawna Bowser – 6
Sheila Tims McClendon – 6
Toia Williams – 6
Alisa Pace – 7
Ameria Sheriff – 7
Ashley Lundquist – 7
Beth Weiss – 7
Brenda Aguilar – 7
Christina Norris – 7
Dennis Meyer – 7
Isaac Ogundairo – 7
Jaime Rodon – 7
Janelle Jansson – 7
Jody Martin – 7
Justine Bedocs – 7
Leshan Dix – 7
Matthew Marshall – 7

Meagan Hemenway – 7
Paula Wynn – 7
Robin Horn – 7
Sonya Burnett – 7
Tamela Sizemore – 7
Alethia Bacon – 8
Alex Berrios – 8
Angel Ripoll – 8
Brenda Severns – 8
Christy Ware-Payne – 8
Dawn Brown – 8
Eucharia Okendu – 8
Janet Brown – 8
JoAnn Taylor – 8
Joshua Rabold – 8
Julia Hooper – 8
Kacianne Sealy – 8
Kara Richlak – 8
Keyuna Thomas – 8
Kimba Brown – 8
Kristin Adkins – 8
Majorine Zinabara – 8
Marissa Spiess – 8
Megan Tracy – 8
Mysti Joye – 8
Noelle Utley – 8
Patrice Buchanan – 8
Patti Greer – 8
Paul Kabutha – 8
Sandra Houston – 8
Shannon Winston – 8
Sue Ellis – 8
Tori McQueen – 8
Valencia Davidson – 8
Willie Gardner – 8
Andrea Walker – 9
Angela Couch – 9
Brenda Quintana – 9
Bryson Lowe – 9
Bueford McKinney – 9
Christa Smith – 9
Danielle Smith – 9
Diane Ressler – 9
Eureke Moorman – 9
Festus Bolarinde – 9
Gloria Baity – 9
Jason Frame – 9
Jennifer Ryan – 9
Karen Geiger – 9
Lakeisha Ross – 9
Lamont Johnson – 9
Mallory Leatherman – 9
Maryann Taylor – 9
Nicole Infante Forsythe – 9
Rodney Geis – 9
Selly War – 9
Sharon Jackson – 9
Tamera Pendarvis – 9
Anjali Joshi – 10
Antionette Godwin – 10
Antwan Byrd – 10
Army Burks – 10
Betty Holloway – 10
Charles Osei – 10
Christine Taylor – 10
Connie Walters – 10
Cynthia Driggers – 10
Denise Good – 10
Franklin Briggs – 10
Franklin Davis – 10
George Harris – 10
Ginger Sunbom – 10
Iris Varela – 10
Jayne Spitznogle – 10
Jeanne Warno – 10
Jerri Flowers – 10
John Sesay – 10
Joyce Johnson – 10
Kwabena Boaitey – 10
Ladoria Rankin – 10
LaShonda Thomas – 10
Litonlya Lester – 10
Marcia Fowlkes – 10
Max Gilyan – 10
Peter Belsky – 10
Robert Ashlock – 10

Sharon Sanchez – 10
Teresa Salemi-Gumiran – 10
Thomas Foster – 10
William Hopkins – 10
Barbara Brown – 11
Derrick McGraw – 11
Gladys Muchemi – 11
Jean Beausoleil – 11
John Guercio – 11
Kimberly Finn – 11
Leslie Armstrong – 11
Maritza Baden – 11
Minerva Coker – 11
Olasunkanmi Faturoti – 11
Tony Rainbolt – 11
Vicki Kennedy – 11
Beatrice Macharia – 12
Cassandra Clubb – 12
Cheryl Galbraith – 12
Christina Narasimhan – 12
Courtney Schaffner – 12
David Muthike – 12
Eileen Baker – 12
Elizabeth Reynolds – 12
Heather Morelan – 12
Jodi Phillips – 12
Joella Wiggins – 12
Juliann Darlington – 12
Kristen Gentilini – 12
May Listenberger – 12
Melody Bolka – 12
Nancy McClimans – 12
Peter Mbugguss – 12
Ruth Nothdurft – 12
Ryan Moyer – 12
Solomon Daniel – 12
Victoria Halbert – 12
Alice Pilarski – 13
Amanda Musser – 13
Amber Adams – 13
Deborah Cartwright – 13
Jeremy Njoroge – 13
Kristina Lambert – 13
Lucinda Kirkpatrick – 13
Tamara Nash – 13
Tamra Stauffer – 13
Dewayne Totten – 14
Ella Ayers – 14
Erma Wims – 14
Evelyn Brock – 14
Gladys Mushatt – 14
Janet Mullins – 14
Jayne Underwood – 14
Philip Boakye – 14
Robert Taylor – 14
Jeffry Harris – 15
Kerrie Miller – 15
Michelle Maio-Venezia – 15
Staci Wimes – 15
Elaine Armstrong – 16
Jason McCain – 16
Pascaline Ruhaya – 16
Rosa Sturgis – 16
Patty Chambers – 17
Lennie Singano – 18
Mbaso Katundu – 18
Margaret Davis – 19
Mary Martin-Lawrence – 19
Tammy Schmitt – 19
Angela Heller – 21
Wilma Gaustad – 21
Cynthia Graeber – 22
Lorraine Di Novo – 22
Mary Zumbaugh – 22
Holly Eykholt – 23
Joy Dennison – 23
Elaine Berning – 23
Brandy Patterson – 24
Michelle Desmonds – 24
Thomas Titus – 24
Paula Tucker – 26
Karen Lichtsinn – 27
Anne Titus – 29
Margaret Cantey – 30
Karen Shollenberger – 33


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