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TVS celebrates Direct Support Professionals for National Recognition Week

TVS celebrates Direct Support Professionals for National Recognition Week

“Our DSPs at TVS are life changers,” said Brooke Wilson, INTERACT Supervisor. “They are the heart and soul of all our programs.”

In honor of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) week, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) has planned a Superhero themed pizza party for their DSP, as well as, other Superhero themed gifts and recognitions.

DSP week is a way to nationally recognize all direct support workforce supporting people with disabilities. A DSP is defined by Wilson as, “a person who truly cares, commits themselves, and values their job or purpose. They have the best job ever walking alongside the most amazing folks as they explore, grow, and change the world – one day at a time.”

You might have seen TVS DSPs volunteering with participants at the local animal shelter or participating in a Rotary Club sponsored 5K or even a DSP supporting a client working at a local business.

“TVS always recognizes the DSPs year-round,” said Wilson. “But this week is a way to celebrate each individual DSP with the recognition of all the extraordinary, unique gifts and talents that they bring to our participants and each other.”

TVS currently staffs almost 30 DSPs that provides supports to two separate day programs (INTERACT and Life Skills), two residential group homes, individuals living home in their own homes, and numerous individuals with jobs in our community.

It is hard to describe a job that does not fit into a box, however, DSPs at TVS are a little bit of everything including; teachers, nurse assistants, chauffeurs, Zen Masters, exercise instructors, and more. “The most important duty of a DSP is safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of the participants,” said Carla Hill, TVS Programs Manager. “Followed by ensuring that each participant is living their best life, whatever that means to each individual.”

TVS DSPs have a willingness to be challenged, a heart for all individuals, and have their own talents worth sharing. Hill says, “When they find that talent, it is a spark of magic and you can see how meaningful it all is. They bring their own unique talents to our team.”

“Every day I get to see the excitement and enthusiasm that our DSPs bring to their jobs to assist individuals,” said Hill. “They build relationships with individuals and share in the experiences and exposures that may not be an opportunity without the support of our awesome DSPs.”

TVS DSPs are engaged with people 24/7. “They are a very significant part of the lives of the people we support,” said Hill. “The most challenging part of the job is keeping a tough boundary with a therapeutic verses friend relationship.  With a huge heart, I thank all our DSPs for what they do to ensure that TVS participants are treated with respect and dignity.”

Highlighting all their dedicated and hard work Program Manager Suzanne Byers said, “we work hard to make sure our DSPs are well-trained and focused on person-centered services.”

Byers continues, “We recognize it is a difficult job as a manager or a supervisor and we want to do everything we can to support staff so they can support participants. Without DSPs individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and their families would struggle to find the supports they need.” 

Currently there is a DSP workforce crisis. There is a high demand for services with no workers to fill the spots and limited recognition for those working in those jobs. “We continue to promote Direct Support Professionals as a recognized career,” said Byers.

If you see a TVS DSP out in the community stop and let them know how appreciated they are.

Read the Press Release from the Transylvania Times here. 

 

Cory Thomas celebrates 10 years at TVS

Cory Thomas celebrates 10 years at TVS

With over a decade of experience at TVS, Cory Thomas can be found working in almost any production area. Cory is able to flow between all the different lines and provide additional support wherever it is needed.

“Cory has been a regular fixture here at TVS! Over the years, Cory has performed a variety of jobs at TVS and takes his work seriously,” said TVS CEO Jamie Brandenburg. “I have always appreciated his loyalty and dedication to our mission and company.”

Cory was originally hired on second shift, palletizing and case sealing on lines producing SuperCereal, Instant Non-Fat Dry Milk (INDM), and Bakery Mixes.

Now, Cory prefers to work in Supplements. “My favorite spot is on the supplement line, I enjoy the flow of the work and the atmosphere,” said Cory. “I enjoy having the chance to talk to my coworkers.”

In Supplements, Cory can be found blowing out canisters, palletizing, or any other job they need him to do. “Cory is a hard worker with good work ethic,” said Supplement Production Lead Richie Atwell.  “He does his work with a smile.”

Cory works by the motto, “drive to go home or don’t steer.” Or in other words, care about what you do.

“I enjoy watching Cory grow and appreciate his willingness to work in new departments,” said Dietary Supplements Operation Manager Brian Wilson. “I am very proud of his recent progress in his personal life.” 

Cory is native to Transylvania County, and has been involved with TVS for 12 years. Before graduating from Brevard High in 2011, Cory completed his high school requirements by finding employment through Vocational Rehabilitation at TVS.

Over the past 10 years Cory said, “I am able to do more jobs and spread my wings more. I have become more well-rounded and have started to try more.”

When Cory is not at work he can be found practicing Taekwondo, working towards his black belt. Cory is also trained in Kick Boxing and Muay Thai. He has already competed in two different tournaments and aims to keep getting better and better.

Cory also enjoys hanging out with friends, swimming, hiking, social events, and being online. If you are ever looking for Cory on a social media network, it would help you to know that Steven King is his favorite author, as well as, the name of the hotel owner in The Shining.

He can be found in tropical locations on vacation. While his favorite location was Jamaica, he also enjoyed visiting the Bahama’s, Cayman Islands, and Myrtle Beach.

Looking back over the years, Cory remembers all the company picnics, riding inflatable animals in the field out back, evenings together celebrating Christmas, and has lots of memories with good people – some of which are no longer here.

Cory looks forward to continue growing at TVS and moving into whatever position his credentials will take him.

When asked to share some stories about Cory, Brian smiled and said, “I have some great stories involving Cory. They just cannot be repeated here.” 

Celebrating AJ Spears for 10 years at TVS

Celebrating AJ Spears for 10 years at TVS

“We need more AJs in the world!” says Warehouse Lead Associate Tracie Fisher. “AJ is absolutely one of the hardest workers I have ever encountered and I am always impressed by the care and dedication to quality that she puts into every pallet.”

Over the past 10 years, AJ Spears has worked at TVS in almost every area including blending, set-ups, driving fork trucks, and as a floor lead for INTERACT participants.

Now AJ can be found at the warehouse location palletizing and making sure Prime Vendor and Troop Support orders are shipped out correctly. “I love the independence of being at the new warehouse,” AJ said. “But I do miss the INTERACT participants, they are what have kept me here. They bring a lot out of you without ever even trying.”

Her peers describe her as compassionate, being detail oriented, having a strong work ethic, perfectionist, and an open book.

When talking about her work, she always says, “if I wouldn’t send it to my mama looking like that, why would I send it to our soldiers?” If there is a pallet or case out of place, AJ will find it and fix it, she has no tolerance for cutting corners.

“Everything has to look right, or she will break the pallet down and redo the entire thing,” explains Warehouse Manager Shannon Merrill. “She also takes it upon herself to do more than her normal duties. She takes care of anything that might need to be done.”

Shannon has known AJ his entire time working at TVS, but has only worked directly with her over the past couple years since her promotion to Warehouse Production Associate.

“She is determined to do her job to the best of her ability, and her ability exceeds almost everyone I know,” said Customer Relations Specialist Robin Ervin. “She’s a beast!  In the past year, Prime Vendor has shipped out 63,522 cases of product and AJ has had her hands on 99% of those cases.”

The TVS warehouse has a bulletin board that changes themes monthly. AJ has adorned the hat of Country Music Singer Gretchen Wilson, Animal from The Muppets, and Sandy the Squirrel from SpongeBob.  Currently, she has been likened to Looney Tune’s Yosemite Sam. “For those who know AJ well, Yosemite Sam is likely to be the most accurate of them all,” laughs Robin.

“She is hilarious and you never have to wonder how she feels about things,” Robin explains. “AJ is rightfully proud of how far she has come since leaving her past struggles with addiction behind.”

AJ moved to Brevard in the 1990s with her family from Lodi, California. She worked other jobs including a PBX answering service, woodworking, and dog groomer. “My past history was rocky, but TVS took a chance on it,” said AJ.

“I give blood, sweat, and tears for this place to help feed the world,” she said. Reflecting over the past decade, AJ says, “it has been awesome working here. I love my job, what we do, and our mission. TVS has helped me in life and if I wasn’t here don’t know if I would have survived sobriety.” 

Last year, AJ and her wife Alicia purchased their first home. When they are not working at TVS, they can be found helping friends, neighbors, and those in need mow to their lawns. “It makes you feel good to be helpful,” says AJ.

With all the work, AJ does enjoy some play while visiting the Cherokee casino. While AJ enjoys her luck at the slots, she does have a series of unfortunate events. “TVS is not kind to AJ and Alicia’s car,” laughs Robin.

In 2019, Mother Nature decided to strike the TVS parking lot with a bolt of lightning. The strike blew the pavement out from under the car and completely fried the electronics and killing their car. Luckily, it occurred during working hours and no one was outside.

But now her new car is a “car-magnet,” attracting other cars to bump into it while working at the warehouse location.

Looking ahead in her career at TVS, AJ is always looking for new ways to grow and with her motto of, “work hard and keep your chin up,” the possibilities are endless.

 

Stricker-Alderman Fund Launched

Stricker-Alderman Fund Launched

In an effort to provide additional support to TVS employees, TVS is proud to implement the Stricker-Alderman Fund. This resource is intended to help those in times of crisis.

The Stricker-Alderman Fund is named in honor of Nancy Stricker, former TVS CEO, and Becky Alderman, former TVS COO, for their long-term commitment to individuals in Transylvania County.

“The Stricker-Alderman Fund is built on the idea that life happens and sometimes all we need is an extra life-line and a helping hand-up when times get tough,” said TVS Employee Support Specialist Kyle Ridgley. “TVS wants to serve its employee’s well and show each employee that we value them. We know that things arise that need extra assistance and having this resource available helps make TVS what it is.”

A recent survey indicated that TVS employees have experienced lack of basic needs in some of the following areas within the last 5 years: housing, transportation, utilities, and medical care. The Stricker-Alderman Fund advances the TVS mission of providing services and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities and other barriers to employment, but it also extends beyond the normal work day and assists employees with basic life needs.

“The Stricker-Alderman Fund was needed at TVS,” said Ridgley. “It all comes back to the Trust, Value, Serve model of TVS. We ‘value’ our mission and you can ‘trust’ us to be by your side as we continue to provide ‘services’ and other avenues of assistances as needed.”

The fund is a taxable event. Individuals can receive one grant per year with a maximum of $3,500.

To be eligible, an individual must be a full-time or part-time employee of TVS and the individual, or an eligible dependent (18 years or younger), must have experienced a qualifying event in the past 90 days. A qualifying event is an event that affects your ability to pay for basic living expenses such as utilities, mortgage/rent, food, or transportation.

Events that might be considered eligible for qualification for the Stricker Alderman Fund could include: a serious illness or injury, unexpected medical or dental visits, death of a family member, extreme circumstances such as homelessness or fire, natural disasters, and others.

The application is completely confidential. Usually, within 10 days of submitting the application, a response will be issued. While not all submissions are guaranteed to result in a grant, all submissions are reviewed on a case by case basis, and if necessary, other local resources/assistance options will be provided.

“I am honored to be able to have the opportunity to partner and support TVS employees,” said Ridgley. Looking ahead, TVS hopes to add to Transportation and Personal Advancement assistance tiers to the fund.

For more information about the Stricker-Alderman Fund or to receive a copy of the application please reach out to Kyle Ridgley at (828) 884-2052 or email strickeralderman@tvsinc.org.

 

TVS “Give Back, Get Back” 2021 donation drive ends with 100 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

TVS “Give Back, Get Back” 2021 donation drive ends with 100 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

The final event of the TVS “Give Back, Get Back” donation drive continued the pattern of exceeding expectations! TVS employees donated more than expected and blew the donation goals out of the water!

For the final drive, TVS employees brought in 2,500 items to be stuffed into shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This year’s goal was to stuff 75 shoeboxes, and TVS employees actually helped fill 100 boxes! The boxes were evenly divided into 50 for girls and 50 for boys in the year range of 5-9. Last year, TVS employees filled 50 boxes.

“The best part is seeing how TVS employees come together for a good cause. Our employees never cease to amaze,” said TVS Benefits and Recruitment Specialist Catherine Tinsley. “As I was stuffing the boxes, all I could think about was how excited a child is going to be when they get to open their box.”

Each shoebox was able to include: a toothbrush, hair brush, wash cloths, tissues, Band-Aids, Chapstick, socks, pencils, glue sticks, and a colored writing item. In total, each box has 20-25 items!

“It was really neat to see what different items employees would bring in,” Tinsley said. “You could tell by the donations that some people really wanted to make sure that the children had clothes and some really wanted to make sure they had school supplies, so it was just cool to see what each person thought was important.”

On top of the generosity of TVS employees, one TVS individual pledged to cover the shipping cost for the original 75 shoeboxes. TVS happily stepped in to cover the extra 25 boxes. “Although this individual wants to remain anonymous, TVS is extremely grateful for this person’s willingness to give back,” said Tinsley.

The shoeboxes were dropped off at Wesleyan Church before being going to Charlotte, NC and finally shipped out to their final destinations. All the extra items that did not fit into the boxes are being donated to SAFE, Inc of Transylvania County.