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News from the Noteworthy from Springbrook

STEP Program Thanks to Innovation Council, Scriven

In mid-March of this year, I joined other leaders of community-based and community-led institutions from across the region at the launch of the Regional Innovation Council. I am honored to be among a leadership team that has brought together 75 individuals from 30 organizations, including non-profits, human service agencies, and healthcare and education institutions. This council seeks to bring regional issues to the forefront, like workforce development and employee recruitment and retention, and create solutions and opportunities for our community through collaborative partnerships.

Two months ago, a group of 25 dedicated direct support professional employees of Springbrook gathered in a classroom at our Main Campus for the inaugural Springbrook Training and Education Program. This one-of-a-kind program was developed with SUNY Oneonta as part of one of the many collaborative partnerships the Regional Innovation Council has brought to fruition. STEP offers a tuition-free educational opportunity to DSPs designed to provide knowledge about human services, specifically working with persons with disabilities and their families, loved ones, and caregivers. These staff members come from Springbrook’s many programs, including Community Homes, Capstone Day Habilitation, employment services, dietary services, and The School at Springbrook. When I spoke with STEP participants, a common theme emerged. These staff were excited to be with new and long-time coworkers who share a common goal—progress and the pursuit of knowledge. Many students shared sentiments like wanting to “grow my knowledge and understand the best ways to support the people we serve” and “share what I learn with the community.” I am so proud of this group of DSPs for taking this step to build a foundation for their education to better the people they serve, themselves, their coworkers, and their community.

Speaking to SUNY Oneonta President Dr. Alberto Cardelle, also a leadership team member for the Regional Innovation Council, he shared our sentiment for the constant pursuit of collaborative community partnerships. Indeed, this partnership widens the prospects for a community of staff to broaden their knowledge. Investing in the future takes planning and commitment, so when this opportunity was brought before me, I had two thoughts: 1. This is an opportunity to encourage and empower our employees to take the first step toward higher and continuing education, and; 2. This will give those staff who have never pursued higher education a chance to have a college-like experience among their peers in a setting they know and are comfortable with. It will also build our staff’s skillsets and expand the care they can provide to the greater community. I am grateful for the clarity of commitment everyone in this partnership shares for our mission.

We are so fortunate for opportunities like this one and the ongoing support we have had from donors and like-minded foundations like The Scriven Foundation. The Scriven Foundation has provided the necessary sponsorship of STEP. Without a shared vision for the community and commitment to bettering the lives of everyone in it, programs like STEP would not be possible. I want to thank everyone, from donors to our partnership with SUNY Oneonta, and the Regional Innovation Council, who have made STEP possible for our employees and our community. Supporting first steps is immensely empowering for those who take them. As a community, we are proud of all our staff who have taken this step to broaden their knowledge and expand their skill set. In doing so, they are not only strengthening themselves as individuals but also contributing to the collective strength of our community as we continue to foster a brighter future for all we serve.

Patricia Kennedy is the chief executive officer of Springbrook.


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