Margaret R. Spies Awards Presented to Four United Helpers Direct Care Staff Members
OGDENSBURG – This year’s group of Margaret R. Spies Award winners was a unique blend of veteran staff and newcomers who made a positive impact within the first few months of their careers. However, United Helpers Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cannizzo said each of the recipients has one thing in common.
“The people being recognized here today exemplify everything United Helpers stands for,” she said.
This year’s winners included Madison Longamore of Watertown, a med-certified direct support professional at the Pleasant Valley IRA in Norwood, Kelly Woodward of Gouverneur, a direct support professional at the Rensselaer Falls IRA, Kimberly Mattice of Canton, a certified nursing assistant at United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care, and Deborah Aldrich of Ogdensburg, a certified nursing assistant who works in the therapy department at United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care.
Among this year’s winners was also a new member of the two-time winner club, as Ms. Aldrich also received the Spies Award in 2010. United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care Vice President of Operations Timothy Parsons said that while she may not know it, Ms. Aldrich has also been nominated for other honors as well.
“Pretty much every year you’re nominated for something,” Mr. Parsons said, as he addressed Ms. Aldrich prior to presenting her with this year’s award. “You’re like the Meryl Streep of CNAs.”
Mr. Parsons also read an excerpt from United Helpers Director of Rehabilitation Trent Worden, who serves as Ms. Aldrich’s supervisor.
“She has a true passion for her work and is as valuable of an asset to our rehab team as anyone. When she has a well-deserved day off, we notice,” he said. “During the worst of COVID, she stepped up more than anyone to help serve the residents she cares deeply for. We will always be grateful for her dedication and commitment to the residents, and for always being a great co-worker and friend to so many.”
Ms. Mattice, this year’s second winner from Rehabilitation and Senior Care is a newer member of the team, but one Mr. Parsons said made an impact right away.
“Kim came to work at United Helpers in 2021, so she has seen the toughest of times working in a nursing home,” he said. “She was able to work in the capacity of a CNA before officially becoming certified due to waivers issued by the state during the pandemic.”
Once she was able to enroll in the CNA class to officially earn her certification, Mr. Parsons said it wasn’t unusual for her to attend a full day of class either before or after working a shift. “She has since made it through the class, and as is evidenced by this honor, is now one of our finest CNAs,” Mr. Parsons said.
Honorees from the Behavioral Health and Life Skills, who work with people with developmental disabilities, also included a veteran employee and a relatively new hire.
With roughly two years of service, Ms. Longamore, who works as an MDSP at the Pleasant Valley IRA, may not have the veteran status that other nominees had, but according to United Helpers Program Leader Paul Linden, that doesn’t mean she’s not one of the most valuable members of his team.
“Her ability to pick up on things quickly, her professionalism, and her demeanor, make her one of the very best mentors that we can offer any new hire or Med-cert,” he said. “Madison knows our program members as well, if not better, than many of us know our own families. She cares for everyone as if they are members of her own family, and she has quickly become a part of their family and our community. She is a “’favorite’” of many program members because it is so evident to them how much she truly does care.”
Ms. Woodward’s nomination came from the unique position of someone who was initially trained by her, but also worked as her supervisor.
Alicia Durant, who was working as a Residence Supervisor at the time of Ms. Woodward’s nomination, wrote, “I first met Kelly when I began working as a DSP at Rensselaer Falls. She was one of the first staff members I got to shadow on my first week of work,” she wrote. “Kelly conducts herself professionally when dealing with both residents and co-workers. She’s courteous and helpful, and always greets everyone with a smile.”
Ms. Durant said the dedication shown by Ms. Woodward isn’t something that goes unnoticed. “She truly values and enjoys the time spent with residents. She goes above and beyond for all of us.”
This year marks the 21st year of the Margaret R. Spies Awards. Since 2001, the award has been presented to employees from both Rehabilitation and Senior Care, as well as Behavioral Health and Life Skills who embody the most desirable qualities in direct care staff: dedication to the people they care for and a willingness to go above and beyond expectations. Nominations for the honor come from fellow United Helpers employees.