Sparks of recognition lit the Perkins stage last night as over 130 staff, family and adult clients gathered under the tent together to celebrate this year’s successes, the evolution of friendship and the programs. Perkins has been providing services to developmentally disabled adults for over 115 years. Today, adult services and elder services are led by Linda Alger and Sharon Brennan. Both took great pride in shining the light on their client’s success at the awards banquet Wednesday night.
The theme of the award’s night event was friendship. Chief Executive Officer Michael Ames expounded on the friendship theme saying, “This year has been marked by the growth and expansion of our programming and residential spaces. Since last year’s banquet, an additional 15 individuals are coming to Perkins for day programming; 24 individuals attended independent living classes and we opened a new residence, Farmers Cottage, expanding our independent living options. We have also opened our craft shop and expanded into our new first floor space at Barlow. With new individuals joining us for day programming, we are expanding opportunities for our residents and program participants to expand their circles of friends.”
As the night began and names were called for recognition, Program Director Linda Alger noted that this was her spark. “The spark is to see how proud these guys are of one another, and it makes me happy that the services we offer provide our clients success.”
As the awards began, so too, did the smiles. It all started with one of the most coveted awards – most increased independence. This award went to Matthew Boss and Scott LaPointe due to their success in moving from Barlow to the Farmer’s cottage as well as their success at work. Perkins also gave out three 50 year awards to clients who have been with the program for most of their lives. These awards went to: Diane Greenough, Richard Anthony and Carol Hymes. “All three live in the Davis Manor now, but have lived somewhere on campus for 50 years,” Linda said.
Other awards included: The Family Support Award which went to Mary Pereira for teaching a weekly knitting class; Most Improved went to Sara Ranno who started in the community based program with much support and who now works on the clean team – the campus cleaning crew. There were also nine service awards given for five to 30 years of service. Cindy Collins received a 30- year service award.
Thanks to their great success, the adult clients have had the opportunity to experience many outside adventures including a multi-day trip to the White Mountains; visits to Patriot Place, The Vermont Country Store,The Fitchburg Art Museum and a bowling excursion.
Finally the employee of the year award went to Bonnie Leppanen. Bonnie lives in a shared living home in Leominster, and has been with Perkins for four years. “She is the one person who can do most any job,” Linda said. “No matter what we ask her to do, we get the polite nod, and the she goes about her business. She is cheerful about everything she does. I need ten employees like her,” Linda quipped.
Linda was quick to point out that this event could not happen without the overwhelming support of the leadership team and staff here at Perkins. “It takes 30 to 40 people to pull off this event, and everyone was great. From Paul Joyce who is my Johnny-on-the-Spot, to Janet Lincoln who created all my certificates, Kerry Flathers taking pictures and Doug Reid and Tim Hammond presenting, it really takes a village.”