Recognizing Suzanne Byers for 10 years at TVS

Recognizing Suzanne Byers for 10 years at TVS

“Be kind and don’t sweat the small stuff” are the words of wisdom from Suzanne Byers as she reflects back on her decade at Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS). Her 10 years of dedicated service are decorated with glittering smiles, paint, and colored construction paper, as she has assisted with the TVS programs growth into the services we have today.

In 2010, Suzanne Byers was hired as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) to help participants build boxes on the production floor. As the programs have grown and evolved to meet North Carolina standards, so has Suzanne. “When production would be slow, program participants moved into the training room to spend some time on education,” she said. Some of the topics included counting money and eating healthy. They also worked on writing emails to “E-buddies” online.

It was past CEO and Suzanne’s Aunt-in-Law, Nancy Stricker, that suggested that she apply as a DSP in 2010. “It is impossible to believe that 10 years have flown by since she was hired,” said Nancy. “I am so proud of Suzanne. I know she is following her heart and that she will continue the important work she continues to excel in.”

In 2012, Suzanne was promoted to the Activities Coordinator for INTERACT and Life Skills; while also assisting with respite every weekend for three years. She was promoted again in 2017 to her current position as Life Sills supervisor.

Prior to TVS, Suzanne had various jobs, including working at the Boys and Girls Club and as an interim K-12 teacher in Transylvania County. Suzanne attended Brevard College and graduated in 2004 with a double major in Art and English. The following year she achieved her certification in K-12 Education, however Transylvania County Schools did not have any open job positions.

“Her practice of active listening allows her to align regulations and human need together,” Nancy said. “Suzanne’s personal creativity assures that individual participants can do the things they want to do, while experiencing and exploring their interests.”

Suzanne is described by her peers as kind, compassionate, quiet, and an advocate for individuals with disabilities.

“I really appreciate all the good times we have together, Suzanne really builds comradery amongst the team,” said Jonathan Coggins, Life Skills DSP. “She cracks jokes with us and makes us all laugh.”

 

Outside work, Suzanne can be found spending time with her husband, Sheridan, and their two children; Ellis and Cullen. She loves hiking and running, being in nature, and reading.

“She is a veracious reader,” Nancy said with a laugh. “Therefore, the joke in our family is that you NEVER want to play Trivial Pursuit with her, unless you don’t mind humiliation.”

Suzanne is a member of the TVS book club and has helped organize past TVS events such as group participation in the Brevard Rotary Club 5K runs.

“She is a team player and is always willing to organize larger TVS events,” Program Director Carla Hill said. “She uses art as a medium and our participants respond positively and enjoy this type of self-expression.”

Carla has been Suzanne’s supervisor for the past seven years. “I remember Suzanne helping participants make individual videos that demonstrated a specific area that they were passionate about,” Carla recalls. The project allowed the participants to develop better communication skills, organizational skills, and presentation skills, while also receiving praise from their peers and others in the room.

Suzanne works to help individuals express themselves so that their individuals’ voices are heard.

“From this career, I have become more aware of the different abilities and of the hidden disabilities,” Suzanne said. “People are people, there are no walls built around them like society portrays and you really start to see that when you work with them every day.”

Thinking back on her career at TVS, Suzanne says, “I have more compassion for the person and care less about what people around me think. I am looking forward to continue growing our programs in whatever fluid direction they take.”

Written by Jenifer Welch

TVS Continues Essential Work for U.S. Government and Initiates New Ways to Assist Program Participants Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

TVS Continues Essential Work for U.S. Government and Initiates New Ways to Assist Program Participants Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Mountain Maid Products for U.S. military and food assistance.

Brevard, NC (March 30,2020) — As a manufacturer of food that is essential for assistance programs and the U.S. military, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) is working hard to continue the production and packaging of their Mountain Maid products while maintaining safe procedures for all employees and program participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For over a decade, TVS has manufactured a variety of Mountain Maid branded pancake and other mixes for the United States military for Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Troop Support. In a typical year TVS produces enough pancake mix to serve more than 4.3 million pancakes to service members.

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches unprecedented totals in the U.S., many of the more than 20 Mountain Maid items TVS makes for DLA Troop Support are expected to be provisioned by distributors for military support outlets, including the two Naval Hospital ships deploying on both coasts of the United States.

The USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort are being deployed to assist treatments of non-COVID-19 patients in the coastal cities, relieving the pressure being placed on health professionals fighting the pandemic at the front lines. Mercy and Comfort each have a 1,000-bed capacity and are equipped with operating rooms and medical equipment.

The TVS manufacturing division is supporting other government aid programs as well during this crisis.

With businesses nationwide having to temporarily lay off workers due to regional stay-at-home edicts, demand at food banks continues to grow. TVS is currently packaging Mountain Maid Instant Non-fat Dry Milk on two large scale production lines, multiple shifts, 6-days a week. The dry milk product is distributed by the USDA to food pantries across the U.S. TVS also manufacturers a low-fat bakery mix that stocks food pantries on Native American Reservations and for other USDA designated locations.

TVS has instituted a number of best practices to ensure the safety of all TVS team members operating during these difficult times. They are supporting social distancing guidelines by having those who can work from home do so, in order to limit potential exposure to the essential production workforce who enter the building every day.

TVS has also suspended all onsite programs and services for individuals with disabilities until the COVID-19 situation is in a place of control and decline. This tough decision has not only provided an extra measure in limiting the number of people inside the building to minimize the threat of the exposure to production workers, but it also removed the amount of social interaction that TVS program participants typically are engaged in.

TVS employs over 20 Direct Support Professionals (DSP) who facilitate a variety of community engagement activities, on and off site. In this new COVID-19 paradigm, almost all of the DSPs are now aiding participants in their own homes and with necessary community activities like doctors’ visits or grocery shopping. Other DSPs have been transitioned to the TVS manufacturing lines to support the growing production needs.

These provisions are dedicated to providing the best care for all TVS program participants, as well as production team members who continue to make products that feed our world and assist the individuals fighting COVID-19 on the battle fronts.

About TVS
TVS is a social enterprise contract manufacturer specializing in the blending and packaging of dry food and beverage products. Founded in 1967, their mission is to provide quality employment, job training and residential & community services to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. For more information go to www.tvsinc.org

Written by: Jenifer Welch

Feb. 14 begins ‘Joy’ art exhibit at TC Arts Council

Feb. 14 begins ‘Joy’ art exhibit at TC Arts Council

Colorful paintings, furniture, crafts, sculptures and drawings by TVS ‘No Limits’ artists will fill the Transylvania Community Arts Council building from Feb. 14 until Feb. 28. The joyful exhibition simply titled, “Joy” begins with an opening reception on Feb. 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

TVS ‘No Limits’ artists are not only showing their work, they are also performing different songs in sign language during the opening reception. The sign language performances are known around the area, it is an extraordinary way to express emotions in a nonverbal approach that aims to leave the audience with a feeling of inspiration.
Cookies and brownies made by the ‘No Limits’ culinary club will be served during the reception.

By creating art, individuals are able to convey personal expressions and serve as an inspiration to others.

For over 10 years, the ‘No Limits’ artists have had their own show hosted by the TC Arts Council. This will be the second time in 2020 that the artists artwork will be featured at the Arts Council building. The first time was in January for the “Faces of Freedom” exhibit.

This event serves as one of the groups largest shows and is really the beginning point of a busy year of exhibits for the artists.

The TC Arts Council is located at 349 S. Caldwell St in Brevard. The artists hope to see you there!

Written by: Jenifer Welch

Happy Holidays TVS family

Happy Holidays TVS family

From the end of November to the New Year, TVS celebrates the festive holidays. This year, TVS celebrated Thanksmas, a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas on December 5. Thanksmas was a Christmas pajama party brunch for employees.

Thanksmas brunch was catered by the Cracker Barrel and included pancakes, bacon, and biscuits and gravy. All shifts TVS employees and program participants were invited to the brunch and the TVS Leadership team served the meal.

Christmas music was played and employees were given name tags with holiday generated names such as Fancy Sugargiggles, Bubbles Fairytree, and Tinsel Everglitter.

During the brunch, employees were able to play BINGO, an emoji Christmas Movie Scramble, and could participant in a holiday themed scavenger hunt around the cafetoria. Prizes were given out to the first few winners of each game.

The holiday cheer did not end there, on the last day of work before Christmas, December 23, employees were asked to wear their best ugly Christmas sweaters. The holiday cheer was tacky and visible throughout the building.

Happy New Year to all TVS employees!

 

Written by Jenifer Welch

Celebrating a decade with Robbie Wright

Celebrating a decade with Robbie Wright

“You have no idea what heaven smells like until you walk into the warehouse when it is full of gummy bears,” said Robbie Wright. After 10 consecutive years at TVS, Robbie would know better than anyone what different aromas have filled the warehouse, especially since he has been filling the warehouse with a variety of different packages on numerous occasions.

Robbie works in Shipping and Receiving as a Material Handler but has worked many other jobs including the blending room, hanging bags, and on third shift in sanitation. Recently, Robbie has moved onto the second shift in shipping and receiving.

“Let me put it this way,” said Shipping and Receiving Warehouse Manager Shannon Merrill. “If he worked anywhere else he would be above expectations. He sets the bar high.”

A decade at TVS is not the entire story, Robbie first worked at TVS in the 90s.

“He worked steady and hard and he quickly became someone we could all depend on,” said friend and former Warehouse Manager Deborah Hall. “Watching him grow into his job and role was so rewarding, but watching his growth as an individual was such a blessing. He came out of his shell and gained confidence in himself.”

COO Becky Alderman also remembers Robbie from his warehouse days describing him as a hard worker and dependable. “I first met Robbie when he was young,” Becky said. “He has always been an amazing employee. He is unfailingly polite and you can always count on him.”

 

In between his times at TVS, Robbie worked as an Over-the-Road (OTR) truck driver traveling across the United States. However, he was laid off in 2008 while home for the holidays.

“My favorite job at TVS is driving the truck,” said Robbie. “You work your butt off loading the truck and then you get in the truck and it is like your own little office with a radio and air conditioning.”

 

“Robbie is a good worker,” said friend and Material Handler Archie Harris. “He also likes to have a good time and joke around.”

Robbie has always had a reputation as a trickster. “I remember us all finding out Robbie had a sense of humor and that he could be a bit mischievous from time to time like hiding things from the warehouse manager,” Deborah said.

“I brought a shock pen to work one time,” said Robbie. “It was funny when people asked to use it.” Even Archie agreed saying, “it was funny to watch people jump when they got ahold of it.”

 

His jokes do not end there, they also include scaring his coworker and friend Jamie Rigsby with bats and a stink spray that smells like a bathroom. Other stories, that can not be listed here, are told with laughs and a smile.

All jokes aside, Robbie is described by peers as; loyal, quiet, head tough, and as being a gentle giant.

“He is a model of consistency and has an unwavering commitment to TVS that is simply remarkable,” CEO Jamie Brandenburg said.

“He hasn’t changed a bit over the years,” commented Archie. “You don’t have to ask him for help, he just jumps in and starts helping.”

Robbie has helped TVS grow and change over the past decade and he is ready for whatever TVS needs him to do, whether it is changing shifts or reorganizing the warehouse. Robbie said, “I do whatever I can; I am happy where I am at.”

With a chuckle, Robbie said, “I hope the new hires have their running shoes on if they are coming into shipping.” And if they come in to work beside Robbie, this statement could not be any more accurate.

 

Written by Jenifer Welch