Benchmark Blog

Second Quarter Thrive – April, 2018

Apr 05, 2018
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to the electronic edition of Thrive, the Benchmark employee newsletter. 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


Helen Cluff, Occupational Therapist, Fairfax, VA


What is the best part of your job?
I love seeing the parent happy when their child does something they were hoping they would achieve.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is helping parents see all of the optional strategies and choose a good option based on their priorities combined with best practice.

Who was your “Hollywood Heartthrob” when you were younger and why?
I first saw Kurt Russel in an early Disney movie, The Strongest Man in the World (okay, I’m giving away my decade), then Overboard with Goldie Hawn, then Tombstone (my husband’s favorite movie, and yes, he knows I would probably accept if Kurt Russel asked me to dinner, but I would only have dinner) and I thought he was still hot in Stargate. However, I totally love Goldie Hawn, who is almost as cute as her husband, and I would never take him away from her, even if I could (fat chance of that!). Besides, if you met my husband, you would know Kurt Russel is no match; my hubbie is the absolute BEST guy in the world, and “pumped” from the gym, so move over, Kurt!


Charlotte Ellis, DSP, Richmond, IN


What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job on third shift is being able to personally assure my clients have a clean, safe, relaxing, yet enjoyable environment to live in.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is seeing any type of declining health or happiness among my clients. You get so close with them, they’re like family.

Who was your “Hollywood Heartthrob” when you were younger and why?
My Hollywood heartthrob when I was younger was, and still to this day is, Mila Kunis. I grew up watching her on “That ’70s Show” and I’ve never seen a movie or show that I haven’t loved her in!

Lifesaving Award


We often complain when we are required to participate in training that takes us away from our normal and sometimes hectic work day. CPR and First Aid are two of the trainings that no one ever seems to look forward to. We hope we never need to use it and never want to have to use it, however, when a medical emergency arises, it is this training which is critical to saving lives.

Earlier this year, Nelidjah Bailey was celebrated for her swift, lifesaving actions while on shift during a choking incident. She was working in a home in the community when an individual was found unresponsive due to a medical condition and required immediate CPR. Nelidjah stepped up and used her CPR training to save this person’s life.

Nelidjah was presented one of three Lifesaving Awards at an event held by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities in March 2018, which she attended with her management staff. Pictured left to right, Ryan Knodel (State Director), Neldijah Bailey (DSP), Becky Bodey, (Area Director), and Mandy Ditto (Program Manager). Thank you for all of the work you do Nelidjah, both lifesaving and day-to-day.

Trip to the Dentist – Big Milestone for Mike


“Does anyone look forward to going to the dentist? I don’t, and I know my son, Mike doesn’t either. In the past he would become so anxious at the visit that he would require conscious sedation in order to relax enough to get a good dental exam,” said Patrick Daley. Patrick is the father of Mike, an individual who lives at Benchmark’s Fiesta Way group home in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

For years, Mike struggled with going to the dentist. He would become very agitated requiring intravenous sedation to complete the exam. Before his latest visit, Mike’s sister Carly told their dad about a recent tooth that was bothering her. When she had the tooth removed, she felt so much better and couldn’t believe how much the pain was adversely affecting her daily life. “I panicked when she told me this,” Patrick said. “I thought about if Mike had a toothache. He’s nonverbal, so he couldn’t tell us about it.” That moment reinforced for Patrick how important Mike’s dental hygiene is to his overall wellbeing. So Mike’s team at Benchmark set to work preparing him for the next visit to Dr. Kinder (Mike’s dentist).

To everyone’s surprise, Mike was able to have 11 teeth cleaned without any sedation, a huge accomplishment for him. He cooperated fully with each step and got a great report from the dentist.

“Mike has grown tremendously in the nearly seven years he’s lived at Fiesta Way, and we are certain the stable environment and consistent loving attention to his needs the Benchmark staff provide Mike have contributed immeasurably,” Patrick said. “Dental hygiene is just a small part of that.”

National Disabilities Awareness Month


This past month, Benchmark celebrated National Disabilities Awareness Month on social media, introducing many of the individuals we serve to our followers. We asked them to tell us something interesting about themselves or something they liked to do. For those who could not speak for themselves, we asked staff to tell us what makes them happy. To see these responses, please visit the Benchmark Facebook page, and give us a like while you’re there for more inspirational content!


Company Milestones


Columbus, Ohio Market Turning 20 Years Old!

This year, Benchmark’s Columbus, Ohio market celebrates 20 years of providing services! Established in 1998, Columbus was the first area in Ohio developed by Benchmark. It is the quality, caring employees who serve the individuals in this area who make this type of longevity possible.

Early this year, Ryan Knodel, Ohio Regional Director, spent more concentrated time working out of the Columbus, OH office. During this time, he had the opportunity and pleasure to work closely with Program Manager, Maggie Henriquez. Maggie started working with Benchmark in November, 2009. Her stability and strong leadership help the employees as they assist the individuals we serve in reaching their goals.

Also, while in the office Ryan had the opportunity to spend time with Supported Living Supervisors Valarie Church (8 years with Benchmark) and Amie Mansaray (7 years with Benchmark), as well as Team Leaders, Stacy Vann, Mark Vella, and Jariatu Mansaray, all joining the Benchmark Team with in the last 2 years. “I am thankful for our local leadership and the support they provide to the individuals we serve and employees,” said Ryan about his time working with this outstanding team.

Many DSPs are 5+ year veterans with Benchmark, leading the way are James Tengbeh and Linda Morrison, both hired in June 2000! Thank you to all the caring employees that serve the individuals in the Columbus, OH area. Looking forward to another 20 years and beyond!

Camp Red Cedar Adds Activity Center

Construction is nearing completion on an 11,500 square foot activity center and four new cabins at Camp Red Cedar. Designed by Fort Wayne architectural firm, MSKTD & Associates, the facility will be fully accessible, and will accommodate a large activity space, offices, a kitchen and dining area, accessible restrooms, and more. The four new cabins will enable Camp Red Cedar to offer more overnight camps for campers of all abilities.

“With the addition of our new, fully accessible Activity Center, we will be able to provide a space large enough for group gatherings, as well as a safe space for rainy day and year round activities,” said Karen Shollenberger, Vice President of Camp Red Cedar. “This is a dream come true for all of us at Camp Red Cedar.” Summer camps begin June 4, 2018.

HomePointe HealthCare is Celebrating 10 Years of Service!

The home health division of Benchmark Human Services, HomePointe HealthCare is celebrating a huge milestone this year. The group was formed in 2008 with locations in both Hobart and Fort Wayne, IN to specialize in primarily pediatric-based homecare for medically fragile children with acute or chronic illnesses. The mission of HomePointe HealthCare is to help children reach their full potential and maintain optimal health at home by providing skill, competent, and compassionate care. “We are so incredibly proud to continue providing services with such a caring and talented team of nurses at HomePointe helping the families and children we serve. Here’s to another 10 years!” said Elaine Armstrong, VP of Children’s Services, of the milestone.

Benchmark Expands Children’s Services to Florida

Benchmark Human Services was recently awarded a contract to serve as the administrator of the Local Early Steps (LES) program in South Florida. This region, also known as the Southernmost Coast, encompasses South Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Benchmark will provide early intervention services in this region for infants and toddlers with a disability or delay. The Florida team officially assumes operations on May 1. “Over the past several years, our children’s programs have expanded our reach to include Indiana, Connecticut, Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and now Florida,” said Angie Heller, Regional Director of Infant and Toddler Services. “We’re very proud to play a small role in helping children get the best start in life.”



Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for April, May, and June, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.


Olugbenga Adekanmi – 5
Foby Akoi – 5
Jane Bauer – 5
Mary Behrends – 5
Andrew Beyrer – 5
Beth Bowman – 5
Shirl Bragg – 5
Andrew Bushong – 5
Nancy Chamberlain – 5
Marissa Ciner – 5
Tiffany Conyers – 5
Katherine Coolidge – 5
Darren Cooper – 5
Gregory Cox – 5
Shavondria Davis – 5
Michael Dean – 5
Darlene Delaigle – 5
Kelly Doseck – 5
Donna Dunbar – 5
Sabrina Dutch – 5
Eugena Flannery – 5
Sandra Ford – 5
Karen Fraysier – 5
Willean Frazer Gray – 5
Michael Frech – 5
Yolanda Freeman – 5
James Fricks – 5
Barbara Frier – 5
Jose Galaviz – 5
Lydia Gray – 5
Cornelius Grimes – 5
Kenneth Herbert – 5
Ella Hooks – 5
Roxanne Jastrzemski – 5
Joseph Kageche – 5
Deborah Lamb – 5
Tommy McKinzie – 5
Jennifer McLaurin – 5
Jaimee Melanson – 5
Chris Meyer – 5
Debra Mlambo – 5
Abebe Mulat – 5
Gwendolyn Oglesby – 5
Chukwudi Onyegbosi – 5
Latanagela Overstreet – 5
Valerie Parker – 5
Stanley Peaslee – 5
Allen Pfotenhauer – 5
Kristina Phillips – 5
Ashley Putt – 5
Michael Rector – 5
Stacey Regans – 5
Amy Roush – 5
Richard Rowe – 5
Mark Sherling – 5
Sylvia Stapleton – 5
Joni Staton – 5
Davanda Talton – 5
Latesha Taylor – 5
Antoinette Thornton – 5
Richard Till – 5
Edward Valentin – 5
Tangrill Varner – 5
Krystal Williams – 5
Mary Williams – 5
Kira Witte – 5
Aneisa Young – 5
Allah Young – 5
Irene Allen – 6
Terri Beard – 6
David Bennett – 6
Nicko Benson – 6
Jerjuana Chambers – 6

Brenell Christian – 6
Velma Conwell – 6
James Cummings – 6
Bernadine Dominguez – 6
Latisha Ellerton – 6
Maria Graham – 6
Nikki Groll – 6
Carla Hanson – 6
Olatoye Itaniyi – 6
Angela Jackson – 6
Julius Karanja – 6
Veronica Lawrence – 6
Cindi Liechty – 6
Davina Logan – 6
Darrell Masterson – 6
Carol Minnerick – 6
Mugaju Mudage – 6
Jeffrey Rector – 6
Tai Rhodes – 6
Cassandra Smith – 6
Sedrick Totton – 6
Michelle Waldecker – 6
Juanita Watson – 6
Sharon Whitham – 6
Masresha Adugna – 7
Danielle Austin – 7
Carey Baragiola – 7
Teresa Bartnik – 7
Constance Beck – 7
Christopher Briggs – 7
Shelley Campbell – 7
Wayne Cripps – 7
Terresa Garner – 7
Gayle Garr – 7
Melinda Gray – 7
Nicole Headlee – 7
Patrick Kagarama – 7
Paula Kelly – 7
Tori Kitchell – 7
Ephy Koundo – 7
Danny Large – 7
Tarena McClure – 7
Rachael Mitchell – 7
Melody Richardson – 7
Lorian Schneider – 7
Derek Tiemann – 7
Patricia Whitesides – 7
Jason Borkholder – 8
Lillian Duarte – 8
Rita Griesdorn – 8
Rebecca Jones – 8
Elvira Loya – 8
Sherry Royse – 8
Lisa Sawyer – 8
Dina Smith – 8
Stella Waithaka – 8
Olivia Alvarado – 9
Amanda Beeks – 9
Anna Bustamante – 9
Kimberly Chestnut – 9
Joseph English – 9
Terry Gibson – 9
Kimberly Gillihan-Potter – 9
Patricia Ibarra – 9
Kyna Johnson – 9
Miriam Kimani – 9
Stephen Mndalila – 9
Miriam Ngwarai – 9
Regina Romero – 9
Teresa Ronquillo – 9
Cecilia Rubio-Miramontes – 9
Beverly Schmidt – 9
Kevin Sholley – 9
Howard Smith – 9

Paula Spall – 9
Dawn Thompson – 9
Stephen Walker – 9
Susan Achten – 10
Mary Agba – 10
Stephanie Ayers – 10
Marebate Batoma – 10
Ruth Baxter – 10
Bree Cannon – 10
Kris Cooley – 10
Kay Davis – 10
Peggy Fowlkes – 10
Garnett Goodwin – 10
Lorraine Hall – 10
Barbara Handley – 10
Wanda Hart – 10
Terri Hendon – 10
Cynthia House – 10
Betty Hudgins – 10
Julie Kenney – 10
Harold Kirby – 10
Nola Lakamp – 10
Bernadette LaMaster – 10
Dawn McVay – 10
Kimberly Muhlenkamp – 10
Samuel Muhuha – 10
Carol Sparks – 10
Nancy Waweru – 10
Misty Abbott – 11
Travis Boggs – 11
Holly Cotton – 11
Shelly Detcher – 11
Sandra Foster – 11
Jose Gonzalez – 11
Jessie Johnson – 11
Deborah Keita – 11
Ebrann Kinnie – 11
Lucy Murei – 11
Barbara Nakiganda – 11
Tomeka Smith – 11
Michael Snook – 11
Walter Sparrow – 11
Shawntae Thomas – 11
Glenda Agostino – 12
Deborah Jarrett – 12
Kathleen Bradshaw – 14
Melissa Holycross – 14
Shelley Johnson – 14
Carrie Moden – 14
Thiola Moyo – 14
Tiffany Smith – 14
Mai Bond – 15
Maureen Dow – 15
Carrie Perry – 15
Jeffrey Birnell – 16
Elizabeth Chege – 16
Sarah Harman – 16
Julia Kill – 16
Lindsay Moore – 16
Jessica Quarles – 16
Mark Flegge – 17
Ennette Gose – 17
Justin Weber – 17
Laura Mc Farland – 18
Linda Morrison – 18
James Tengbeh – 18
Pamela Jenkins – 19
Wendy Wind – 19
Sharon Sherazi – 20
Lily Compton – 21
Lisa Rector – 21
Randy Hoium – 22
William Swiss -33

Movin’ On Up!


Below is a list of employees who were promoted in December, January, February, and March and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!


Elizabeth Malone, Developmental Therapist
Jamie Rodon, Developmental Therapist

Michael Anderson, Clinical Regional Supervisor
Bionca Ball, Licensed Clinical Staff
Kendra Butler, Licensed Clinical Staff
David Cogdell, Regional Director
Katrina Hammonds, CNA
Keyona Hubert, CNA
Jermika Jackson, RBT
Sandra Lawyer, CNA
Janica Merriweather, House Manager/LPN
Angela Nelson, Clinical Supervisor
Aungelia Norfleet, Licensed Clinical Staff
Teresa Walker, LCSW

Adedamola Adeyinka, Supported Living Supervisor
Jon Anderson, Industrial Team Leader
Dennis Arnos, Production Assistant
Abdul Barrie, Compliance Analyst
Ada Campbell, Team Leader
Marcus Cyprian, Team Leader
Shelly Detcher, Assistant Director
Demontri Draughn, Residential Manager
Kasharel Forrest, Team Leader
Sandra Ffrench, Compliance Officer
Nathan Gadson, Production Assistant
Sharon Goerler, Supported Living Manager
John Grimm, Team Leader
Merissa Harden, Activities Coordinator
Darrell Masterson, Supported Living Manager
Brandon McGill, CIO
Tameeca Murray, Supported Living Supervisor
Jillian Patterson, Supported Living Manager
Rasheda Patterson, Residential Manager
Toni Payton, Residential Manager
Liddie Porter, Team Leader
Jessica Salazar, Team Leader
Jane Schriefer, Program Coordinator
Jamie Singleton, Team Leader
Tomeka Smith, Supported Living Manager
Ann Tindall, Program Coordinator
Michaela Jan Tolemy, Residential Manager
Sydney Townsend, Team Leader
Carmen Williams, Team Leader
Sherly Wilson, Residential Manager
Adelina Zavala, Residential Manager

Jarrod Oberhaus, RBT
Lennie Singano, Supported Living Supervisor

New Jersey
Shandrel Riddle Thelwell, Team Leader

New Mexico
Candace Fernandez, Administrative Assistant
Christopher Gutierrez, Team Leader
Meredith Pearson, Supported Living Manager

Autumn Armstrong, Team Leader
Danielle Austin, Supported Living Supervisor
Miercedez Carter, Team Leader
Kathy Cesar, Assistant Director
Fiona Clancy, Team Leader
Jamie Clark, Team Leader
Yvonne Dyer, Team Leader
Tamika Glenn, Program Manager
Courtney Hendricks, Team Leader
Darlene Johnson, Team Leader
Savannah Jones, Team Leader
Mary Kearns, Team Leader
Lacey Latham, Team Leader
Jasmine Rogers, Supported Living Supervisor
Kebrina Salisbury, Team Leader
Brenda Severns, Program Manager
Cierra Sizemore, Supported Living Supervisor
Betty Tirey, Team Leader
Shaunna Turner, Supported Living Supervisor
Debbie White, Team Leader

© Benchmark Human Services   |   Privacy Policy