Nurses Week 2022

Nurses Week 2022

Last week we celebrated Nurses Week, and if you ask us, one week just doesn’t seem like enough!

What would we be without our tremendous team of Incompass nurses? We’d be falling apart quite literally! We are indebted to them for their gracious dedication to supporting the vulnerable people in our programs and group homes.

The timing also couldn’t have been better to award Kate Burk, part of the nursing team, with an ADDP Continuing Education scholarship. A big thanks to Seven Hills Foundation and Justice Resource Institute, the sponsors who make this type of aid available to our care champions. Well deserved, indeed!

 

Kate Burk and Incompass COO Al Frugoli pose together.

ABI Community Center Orientation at Omni Way

ABI Community Center Orientation at Omni Way

Today was an exciting day at Omni Way, as we welcomed participants to the first-ever Incompass Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Community Center. The ABI Community Center seeks to empower participants to maximize their level of independence, self-confidence, and dignity so they can experience full lives in their communities.

Incompass staff enjoyed coffee and breakfast with participants and their families before moving into the main room for more formal introductions. Heather Mantell, Assistant Director of Family & Community Services, is acting as an interim program manager until we welcome our newest care champion, Stephanie, in June.

The Center is still in its development phase as far as the activity schedule, but there was a strong emphasis on self-advocacy during the orientation. More than anything, we want the folks joining us from the ABI community to shape the Center into a place that will meet their unique needs.

A full continuum of community-based supports will be accessible to participants, comprised of skilled clinicians and care champions that serve on an interdisciplinary treatment team. Staff will encourage participation in the Center’s operations through a variety of work units such as:

  • Administration
  • Governance
  • Programming
  • Maintenance of physical site
  • Food service
  • Human Resources
  • Center development

We look forward to what the future holds for this new group joining us. Welcome to Incompass!

Incompass Human Services Celebrates Earth Day 2022

Incompass Human Services Celebrates Earth Day 2022

Earth Day is a special holiday in the Incompass Human Services community, not just because of what it represents to the planet – but it’s also the official kick-off of our gardening season!

This year, Earth Day fell on Friday, April 22 and Activities Specialist Cathy Brunelle once again put on a wonderful event! Day program participants at Incompass Human Services met outside of agency headquarters at 4 Omni Way in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where Care Champions had setup stations with garden beds, flower pots, watering cans, and gardening tools. And this year was made even more special because a group of volunteers from the local BNI Global chapter!

“It’s been more than two years since we’ve been able to welcome members of the community to take part in an event like this, and the looks of joy on the faces of both the participants and volunteers said it all,” remarked Dan Esdale, chief marketing officer at Incompass.

Earth Day at Incompass is Really Earth Week!

As is tradition, each day hab room provided Care Champions with a list of seeds they wished to grow on Earth Day. And throughout the week, members of the Incompass community worked to prepare the garden beds and purchase soil so the group would have the tools they need to celebrate Earth Day right. Bianco’s Catering, who is also a tenant at 4 Omni Way, even got in on the fun providing individuals with the lettuce heads that were planted in the vegetable garden!

“We planted everything from onions to garlic to beans throughout the afternoon, and the weather could not have been better!,” said Brunelle.

Volunteers Had A Lot to Share About Their Experience…

For the volunteers from the BNI Power Players, it was their first time at Incompass Human Services – and their first chapter volunteer engagement since the beginning of the pandemic.

“My business is rooted in spreading joy, and spending the day with the Incompass day program participants was the definition of spreading joy,” remarked Dot Richards, vice president of the BNI Power Players and owner of Cards by Dot. “I loved being outside with the volunteers and participants!”

Ryan Hart, a financial advisor with New York Life and treasurer of the BNI Power Players remarked that he was impressed with the coordination of the event by the Care Champions, and could see the impact first-hand. “I was struck by just how genuine the Incompass team was in engaging us as volunteers, and ensuring they put on a great program for the people in their programs. And I can’t wait to see the progress of the vegetables that we planted throughout the day!”

 

The Earth Day Gallery

Reflections of a Care Champion Intern with an Open Heart for Incompass

By Alyvia Petrozza,
Urban Youth Intern, UMass Amherst Class of 2022

Alyvia PetrozzaIf you asked me a year ago where I would be now, my answer would be so far off from the reality of it all. While looking for internships a year ago, the Urban Youth Internship program at Incompass Human Services had absolutely nothing to do with what I was hoping to work towards after college. However, pursuing internships, especially during pandemic times, was a difficult endeavor, and I began to think differently about this opportunity to work in human services.

I didn’t know what to expect going in…but as I finish I can say it was a truly transformational experience.

Looking back in hindsight, I would not change a single thing about my decision and my experience at Incompass. Working with the individuals in the day habilitation program brought me immense joy on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t just about gaining experience and a consistent paycheck; it transformed into pure love and care I held for each individual and my passion to help them in any way that I could as an advocate. I learned that, even though the internship didn’t seem to focus on my intended area of work, I built up this invaluable experience and a fierce passion that is applicable to any path in life I decide to walk. Almost a year later and I still feel like a completely different individual than I was before I stepped into Incompass on that first day.

After my summer internship had finished, I didn’t feel completely disconnected from Incompass— I didn’t want to be. I remembered a time when myself and my fellow interns gathered in a conference room with the chief marking officer, the director of day services and the CEO of Incompass. At the end of our brief meeting, the head of marketing and the director of day services joked that my creative writing specialization would be a great fit for their marketing team. And although it may have started as a mere joke, it piqued my interest. It was a position that was more applicable to my area of study, while allowing me to still serve as an advocate and a voice for all the individuals I worked with in the day hab.

The first Incompass marketing intern!

I reached out to the director of day services and inquired about a potential marketing internship. Since he had worked with me before and knew that I was passionate about Incompass and its mission, he said right away that formulating a new internship within the program for me was something that he would do everything in his power to make happen.

And so, he did. I spent the entirety of my spring semester working as a part of the Incompass marketing team – creating content, posting on social media, and working in tools that are part of the marketing technology stack. I felt confident in bringing my perspective of already having worked with the individuals in the day habilitation program into this marketing role. Working under Chief Marketing Officer Dan Esdale and Marketing & Fundraising Specialist Amaris Torres, I was taught a plethora of things that I never thought I would be exposed to before I graduated – including posting this very story through WordPress on incompasshs.org!

The next chapter…

This internship was truly tailored towards me through and through; we focused on the projects that would grant me just the right amount of experience in all the things that would benefit me in future job opportunities. It is an extremely rewarding feeling to be able to add things on to your resume that will help you stand out amongst other applicants, which is something I whole-heartedly attribute to the marketing team who were nothing but helpful all along the way.

Now that it is coming to an end, I know that my time at Incompass, whether it be in the day hab or working behind the scenes with the marketing team, will always be held near and dear to my heart.

 

Care Champions Love April Fool’s

Care Champions Love April Fool’s

Angela Otieno, director of residential services, has championed April Fool’s Day Week shenanigans since she first started at Incompass (you read that right…week!). One of the things we all missed out on during the pandemic was this annual Incompass tradition, and it’s great to have it back…over to you Angie!

From no-tear toilet paper to fake parking tickets and cockroaches to BrownEEESss!!!

This is my favorite holiday. Given that COVID ruined my plans for the past couple of years, there is no way it could be contained in one day. It was April Fools Week!!

I don’t have a picture of it, but Al Frugoli’s office was hit! LOL! Ask him to tell you about the phone ringing. (And there may be a few other surprises yet to be discovered. 🤔 )

We all know how challenging it’s been over the past couple of years. We all deserved this light-hearted moment. While work continues to be very “worky” at times, I need to remind myself and others that there is still time for fun. We could all use this reminder to make time for it as it reminds us that we aren’t robots.

My team has never stopped, in fact, back in March of 2020 when day programs shut down, residential went into hyperdrive. All individuals now were without warning told to remain home until things resolved with the virus. Could be a few weeks or months we were told initially.

Fast forward to two years later and a good number of individuals are still home because of staffing issues with day programs. So for the past 2+ years shared living providers and group home staff have become truly a 24-hour model. It’s taken a toll on people in immeasurable ways.

The least I could do is give my team and others in the office time to be distracted from the hard work they’ve been focused on. Maybe have them laugh or be grossed out. It’s a win either way.

I do have to say that one of the best moments was when I brought one of the specimen jars filled with apple juice into managers meeting and told everyone I needed to remember to drop it off to the lab then proceeded to tell them I was thirsty and opened it up and drank it. I then calmly put it back in my bag. John Mbuthia was horrified as was Ozi E and Alex Moiwoh. Oscar then calmly says. “It’s ok, they’re family”. I then calmly proceeded with the meeting as if nothing happened. Fantastic.

And then of course Kidnapping Thompson Stephens’ truck and relocating it to the DCF parking lot where it got a makeover with caution tape and saran wrap. Thank you DCF for calling the police – I had to explain to them that it’s April fools week because it happened on Tuesday. He seemed puzzled; I can’t imagine why!

Kwasi and Susan have yet to see their offices so I look forward to their return to the magic. Oscar said he was going to share some of his balloons. Gosh I hope he has enough.

Oscar actually told the gentleman that cleans to make sure he didn’t clean up the balloons in his office because he wanted them there all week. He said he loved it. He was the first one blessed on Monday!!

It was nice to hear laughter at the office after such a long time. It felt like the good old days.

Already planning for next year!

-Angie

Incompass Human Services Sponsors Human Services Legislative Advocacy Breakfast

Incompass Human Services Sponsors Human Services Legislative Advocacy Breakfast

More than 100 people came together at the Black Box Theatre to advocate for the human services workforce

PEABODY, MA – On Friday, April 1, Incompass Human Services joined six other northeast Massachusetts human services agencies to host elected officials at the annual “Northeast Human Services Advocacy Breakfast” at the Black Box Theatre in Peabody, MA. Given the fact that it was April Fool’s Day, the theme of the 2022 breakfast was “It’s No Joke,” with a robust policy agenda focused on the workforce crisis in the state’s human services industry.

More than 100 people attended the breakfast that was catered by the Breaking Grounds Café, a social enterprise operated by the Northeast Arc. Speakers included Senator Joann Lovely, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Centerboard program director Martina Campbell, and Northeast Arc family member Carol McGee – whose sister receives services from the Northeast Arc. The breakfast was co-sponsored by a consortium of human services providers:

Human services leaders are asking for an increase to the Chapter 257 Rate Reserve that would bring wages to $20.30/hour

Northeast Arc CEO JoAnn Simons, Bridgewell CEO Chris Tuttle, NFI Massachusetts CEO Lydia Todd, and Incompass CEO Jean Phelps also made remarks in support of the workforce.

“We’re specifically asking lawmakers to set aside funds to raise the starting wage for human service workers,” remarked Tuttle.

Phelps at podium

Incompass CEO Jean Phelps at the podium.

Phelps, who had just returned from Washington, D.C. where she attended the Disability Policy Seminar, recalled words from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley that stuck with her that morning. “It would be great if we didn’t have to weaponize our trauma around disability to adequately support our services.”

Incompass Human Services and the six other human services agencies sponsoring the event used the venue to highlight the major policy initiative being championed by The Collaborative – an increase of $581.6 million for the Chapter 257 Rate Reserve. This increase is a necessary investment in the human services industry, as it would bring wages up to a more competitive $20.30 an hour.

“Without this increase, we’re going to continue to lose workers to Amazon and to the state, and we won’t be able to offer the services and supports that the vulnerable people we serve rely on,” Todd told the crowd.

Speakers focused on the important work that human services workers perform, and the lives they touch

A high point of the morning was the legislative panel, which was moderated by Arc of Massachusetts CEO Leo Sarkisian. The panelists included:

  • Senator JoAnn Lovely
  • Rep. Belsito

    Representative Jamie Belsito addresses the crowd.

    Senator Bruce Tarr

  • Senator Brendan Crighton
  • Representative Paul Tucker
  • Representative Dan Cahill
  • Representative Jamie Belsito
  • Representative Thomas Walsh
  • Representative Sally Kerans

“This is about dignity. This is about respect. This is about our communities. This is about our vulnerable populations,” said Representative Belsito in her remarks advocating for more support for the critical workers in the human services field.

Picking up on that theme, Representative Tucker remarked that “they do it because they have a passion for helping people and working with some really special folks. No headlines. No accolades. Sometimes they might get a pat on the back, but that doesn’t pay the bills.”

Representative Walsh added that “we have a terrific group of legislators here who really do hear your message…and we have a tremendous respect for the work that you do.”

Last year’s breakfast was cancelled due to the pandemic, so this was a momentous morning

Attendees remarked on what an uplifting morning it was, and how much they appreciated being in-person given that last year’s breakfast was cancelled due to the pandemic. Senator Diana DiZoglio and former Senator Richard Tisei were also in attendance, as were numerous human services workers, families, and caregivers.

 

Group shot

The legislative panel and human services leaders take a moment to strike a pose after a lively panel discussion.