Benchmark Blog

First Quarter Thrive – January, 2018

Jan 12, 2018
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to the first electronic edition of Thrive, the Benchmark employee newsletter. Moving forward, expect all of the inspiring content you used to receive quarterly in your paycheck to come your way via email. Enjoy, and please share with Courtney Heiser or Simon May any stories you would like to include in a future issue!

From the Front Lines


Steven Bright, DSP, Hillsborough, NJ

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is spending time with the clients, taking care of them, and helping them to live a better life.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Trying to redirect the clients is the hardest part of the job. But, being a godly man, God has helped me to find ways to relate to them and get it to work.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I celebrate Christmas, as it is Jesus’ birthday. I enjoy it spending time with my family and just being kind to others. I have five brothers so we just love being all together and playing music, dancing, and playing games.


Deborah Randolph-Keita, DSP, Indianapolis, IN

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to take care of the clients and assist them with making decisions that will help them find more independence.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is trying to communicate effectively with the non-verbal clients and trying to keep them engaged and entertained in activities.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
My favorite holiday tradition is  getting together with my family during Thanksgiving and playing different holiday games that promote togetherness and cooperation. I also enjoy making desserts from scratch with recipes that were passed down from generation to generation.


Ada Campbell, DSP, North Vernon, IN

What is the best part of your job?
Interacting with the clients I’ve worked with for 12 years. I like the feeling that I am making a positive impact on their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping harmony in the household between 3 housemates.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I love everything about Christmas, especially the feeling in the air.


A Story of Teamwork and Dedication


By Diane Smith
Program Coordinator, Fort Wayne, IN

On November 12, 2017, Judy Audsran, Benchmark Direct Support Professional (DSP), called her supervisor Kasey Parrish, Supported Living Manager, and said she needed someone to relieve her immediately because she thought she was having a heart attack. Kasey called Dale Toth, DSP, the nearest staff to the Abbey Group Home, and explained the situation and asked if Dale could relieve Judy.

Dale arrived at Abbey 15 minutes later. When she arrived she found the ladies (individuals served) at Abbey had already jumped into action as Judy’s pain had gotten worse. Marita had called 911 and Judy’s sister, while Carolyn held Judy’s hand. The EMS were there with Judy, who was on a stretcher — though she refused to go to the hospital until someone arrived to be with the ladies.

Fortunately Judy did not have a heart attack, but was kept at the hospital for observation. I told the ladies how proud Benchmark is of them and how proud we are of Judy. They were our heroes that day, and the dedication that Judy showed was amazing. My team and I just wanted to share this incredible story of dedication and the importance of strong relationships between DSPs and the individuals they serve. Stories like these are what makes me love my job!

Programs for Infants and Toddlers Expanding


For more than 20 years, Benchmark has been providing early intervention services for infants and toddlers born with a disability or delay. Under the leadership of Vice President, Elaine Armstrong, and Regional Director, Angie Heller, the program serves children and families in Indiana, Virginia, Connecticut, and Missouri.

Benchmark recently won two new state contracts through competitive bid processes. We began serving children and families in Montana on January 1, 2018. Benchmark will launch services in South Florida later this spring. Angie says she is excited for the recent expansion of services. “Our experience and performance in other states has provided us a solid foundation to expand services. Our teams work hard to deliver quality services and meet/exceed contract requirements. We are so thankful for their dedication and commitment to our mission. The awards of these new contracts is a testament to our reputation of being a trend-setter and a high-quality provider of early intervention services among states.”

Relationships Increase Success


By Christopher Reynolds
Program Coordinator, St. Louis, Missouri

“Rapport equals trust plus comfort.” – Neil Strauss

One of the most important things to remember when working with individuals with challenging behaviors is the importance of strong relationships. In our setting, relationships refer to our clinical rapport with the individuals we serve. The importance of our rapport with the individuals we serve cannot be overstated. It is the basis on which our interactions and outcomes are built.

There are several key factors that need to be established in order to build a strong rapport. First, and possibly the most important, is establishing trust with the individual. The individuals we serve must believe that they can trust you. If they approach you with a concern or request, they must believe you will listen and do your best to assist with meeting their needs. Secondly, be an advocate for the individual. Let the individual know you are trying to help them achieve their goals. Lastly, make yourself a reinforcer. The importance of positive reinforcement is crucial in working with the individuals we serve on a daily basis. Working with the individual, and providing preferred outcomes, and tangible reinforcers will assist the individual with associating preferred items with you. These things, when paired together and done consistently, can establish a strong foundation for your clinical rapport.

When tense situations arise, the relationships we have already built play a major role in the outcome of the situation. Our actions and responses to situations can determine if the situation resolves quickly, or escalates further. When tension rises, listen; listen to the entire viewpoint of the individual. When we interrupt or take over a conversation, we take away the individuals ability to express their thoughts. Offer choices, not directives. Everyone wants to feel like they have control over their own lives, and by offering choices we allow the individual to maintain that control. Monitor yourself. Focus on your tone, and posture. It can be difficult not respond to tense situations by raising our voices, and taking on a defensive tone and body language. We must remember to remain passive and calm. We are trying to de-escalate the situation, and in order to do so we must role model the behavior we are trying achieve.

If we can build strong and healthy relationships based in trust, we can better assist those we serve.


Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for January, February, and March, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.


Zora Artis – 5
Renee Bridgewater 5
Nikki Cotterman 5
Michael Dow 5
Lavanda Dyous 5
Tondaleah Eversole 5
Tara Froelich 5
Joseph Gootee 5
Petronella Harris 5
Laurie Heckman 5
Casey Jackson 5
Brittney Jackson 5
Shaun Jasper 5
Dawn Kampf 5
Mohamed Koroma 5
Kathleen Manegre 5
Angie Melvin 5
Keith Miller 5
Salinda Moore 5
Edward Mowen 5
Ann Musser 5
Diana Navarro 5
Modester Nnona 5
Hugo Ochoa-Marquez 5
Dajuan Quilling 5
Angela Resovsky 5
Shawna Roberts 5
Jonathan Rushton 5
Deuntae Scott 5
Melissa Shaw 5
Herbert Sheftal 5
Claudia Springer 5
Ragna Urberg 5
Cawanna Wadley 5
Ruth Wambu 5
Ronald Baldwin 6
Ruth Bates 6
Lori Blanco 6
Kanisha Brantley 6
Tammy Carroll 6
Belinda Christensen 6
Demetrius Clark 6
Frances Cline 6
Karen Evans 6
Matthew Govan 6
Latasha Green 6
Dedria Handerson 6
Calma Harris 6
Stephanie Hathaway 6
Eunice Hutchins 6
Kimberly Leal 6
Javon Martin 6
Maurice McKenzie 6
Larry Mitchell 6
Erika Moore 6
Travis Robertson 6
Sycilla Smith – 6
Rosita Stewart 6
Alicia Warren 6
Orlando Wash 6
Cameron Weinert 6
Pamela Weston 6
Elmira Wilson 6
Jeremy Wimbley 6
Keri Wuertz 6
Katherine Zmeskal 6
Susan Brown 7
Anthony Bryant 7
Michael DeGasperis 7
Unique Fields 7
Timothy Fitzgibbons 7
Benjamin Harrison 7
Julie Heiges 7
Angela Jeffrey 7
Rhonda Johnson 7
Andrea Kinnard 7
Rashanda Little 7
Geidy Melara 7
Rasheda Patterson 7
Dorothy Robbins 7
Alocia Robertson 7
Judith Vaughn 7
Debra Williams 7
Robert Armstrong 8
Andrew Baden 8
Jennifer Bentle 8
Timothy Briggs 8
Stacy Christopher 8
Jeffrey Cross 8
Erin Gruber 8
Megan Ham 8
Douglas Houser 8
Casey Lolmaugh 8
Amy Miller 8
Amy Morff 8
Laine Muston 8
Steven Sechrest 8
David Warui 8
Sharen Yeager 8
Elizabeth Zanes 8
Souleymane Adamou 9
Chad Biddle 9
Harold Eagleson 9
Martel Freeman 9
Xavier Ilboudo 9
Eva Jacobson 9
Shirley Morgan 9
Lucy Phiri 9
Theresa Prentice 9
Kristy Stemen 9
Ann Williams 9
Brenda Willis 9
Beth Barger 10
Yves Bayiringire 10
Shawn Fields 10
Jenine Jansma 10
Donna Kuntz 10
Rhonda McAuley 10
Jill Tatalovich 10
Tonya Watts 10
Rosalind Winston 10
Osman Babiker 11
Yared Belew 11
Wudnesh Digafe 11
Isiah Harris 11
Linda Henney 11
Theophilus Kungang 11
Jennifer Smith 11
Kim Stephens 11
Justin Tucker 11
Tyaan Winn 11
Debra Wood 11
Judith Ausdran 12
Paige DeCook 12
Nathan Heimann 12
Kimberly Larson 12
Cindy Rousey 12
Kathy Thorson 12
Barbara Grote 13
Glenn Heath 13
Julius Kerkula 13
George Sewell 13
Steven Starkey 13
Nancy Bobay 14
Clara Chibweya 14
Ava Churchman 14
Peter Kelly 14
Sherri Morris 14
Amy Pennycuff 14
Melissa Bushong 15
Timothy Cline 15
Courtney Heiser 15
Jean Kambela 15
Lubasi Kekelwa 15
Nyasha Mugadza 15
Diane Robinson 15
Kelly Stahl 15
Deborah Hanan 16
June VanTilburg 16
Sandra Phelps 18
Gary Brabson 19
Michela Buss 19
Sharon Dodge 19
Joyce Wright 19
Paula Elward 22
Todd Staszak 22
Curlie Young 28

Movin’ On Up!

Below is a list of employees who were promoted in September, October, or November, and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!



Theresa Hegyi,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Brandy Moore, CNA
Gregory Cox, Licensed Clinical Staff
Keodria Zellner, RBT
Jennifer McLaurin, Licensed Clinical Staff
Jeffrey Rector, Licensed Clinical Staff
Jamal Cooper, Behavior Specialist


Margaret Davis, Program Coordinator
Cathy Malcolm,
Supported Living Manager
Kimberly Easley, Team Leader
Jessica Clements, Team Leader
Lois Dada, Director
Jennifer Rexroad,
Supported Living Supervisor
Debbie Peters,
Supported Living Supervisor
Dennis Stroup, Production Manager
Catherine Nganga, Team Leader
Hilary Fleischmann,
Employment Consultant
Amber Holliday, Residential Manager
Olatoye Itaniyi,
Supported Living Supervisor
Breya James, Team Leader
Matthew Marshall, Team Leader
Amanda Carico, Activity Coordinator
Debra Robinson, Activity Coordinator


Traveon Stevenson,
Supported Living Manager
Theodore Striverson,
Supported Living Manager

New Jersey

Angelique Palmer-Robinson,
Team Leader
Myasia Young, Team Leader
Jane Otieno, Residential Manager
Tiuana Cogdell, LPN
Yazkalee Guzman, Team Leader
Jessie Bryant, Residential Manager

New Mexico

Samantha Martinez, Team Leader


Heather Krehbiel,
Supported Living Supervisor
Diana Roberts,
Supported Living Supervisor
Lafara Carter, Team Leader
Jamie Mabry, Team Leader
Tracy Zink, Team Leader
Tameeca Murray, Team Leader
Tamela Sizemore, Activity Coordinator
Christina Murray,
Day Services Supervisor

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