Thank You to So Many

John Stauffer writes about the Sleeping Giant - the Boom Generation

Thank You for 2016 and the Promise of 2017

As we roll into the New Year it is the appropriate time to take a moment and reflect on those things that have happened that I am thankful for. Our agency has been truly blessed with some special angels who have made a significant difference in the quality (and quantity) of care that we were able to provide to our community over the last year.

Thank You Volunteers

Vicki Rakowski (and her side kick Barb Zimmerman) spent hundreds of volunteer hours helping us improve how to get and retain volunteers for all of our programs. The fruits of their labor are being recognized every day as we slowly grow the number of dedicated volunteers who are assisting us not only in our group programs like our Adult Day Services (ADS) program and our after school program, Breaking Barriers Today (BBT). With Vickie and Barb’s help we have been able to expand services (through volunteers) further into the homes were we provide direct care respite services.

Front Office Thank You

Our front office staff, Rhonda Mliakoff and Janette Bauzon have only been with us a few months, but their professionalism and experience has created such a positive impact on our dedicated administrative team. We have come to lean on them and count on them for so many little things as it pertains to our computers, scheduling, and communicating with our care providers. Our care providers have been more responsive to this duo than any other we have had in my 5 ½ years as the head of this agency – so a big shout out to Rhonda and Janette for bringing the right ingredients to complete the blue ribbon recipe that makes up the Helping Hands Administrative staff.

Big Thank You to Marketing

When it comes to our marketing consultant Katie Donovan and her fearless interns Leah Gavin and Jackie Gibson, it is hard to fully appreciate the effort that comes from this group. But to get a glimpse of the quality of work they do just jump out to our website – most of what you see here was completed by them, also take a moment and LOOK at the newsletter. I am so proud of it. It represents so well in both picture and words the work that we do, again this is because of our marketing team. Katie has not allowed a piece of marketing – whether electronic or in print to reach our community that did not absolutely and completely represent us in the best light possible. People are recognizing us, and it is because of the effort put forth and the dedication to the purpose from Katie and her team.

Leaders that Deserve a Thank You

I’m thankful for our supervisors Jeff Nunham, Alison Sarkozy, Kathryn Green and Tarra Boris. Since our team is small we all have to wear so many hats and without asking, prodding, or poking they have stepped up in a big way taking on extra responsibilities, working longer hours where required, being creative and flexible in the way we train our new care providers. They have borne the brunt of the paperwork and processes of on-boarding a new care provider as I have been busy bringing the front office staff up to speed. No whines, no grunts, no groans – I am so lucky to have such a dedicated group of supervisors who believe in the mission of our agency, and their collective positive attitude models so well what we require and need from our care providers.

Special Individual Thank You

I have a special person I would like to say “Thank You” to. I think she thinks that I don’t even know what she does, but I do, and I am usually just too busy to take the time to appropriately acknowledge all that she does. This is Nurse Jane Rogers. Jane is our face and voice of our Adult Day Services program to all our families and our participant’s doctors. She does a wonderful job of assessing the needs of our participant’s every day and if someone is having a difficult day or an exceptionally good day, Jane takes it upon herself to make sure that all the appropriate people know. Her job goes way beyond passing meds and writing in charts. Her calm caring demeanor relaxes those whom she has to often share less than positive news, and the staff at ADS and the families would be heartbroken if we all didn’t have Jane as the person we could turn to whether for medical advice, a shoulder to cry on, or for a gluten free recipe to improve our health. Our agency is once again truly blessed to have someone as caring and compassionate as she is to oversee our needs in the adult day program.

Thank You Board Members Instrumental to Respite House Renovation

Our agency accomplished a major undertaking this year. It was the restoration of our Respite House. There were many people who had a lot of hours tied up into this project to make our respite house look new again and increase the enjoyment of our children and young adults who attend every week, but this project never would have happened without our board of directors. I was just stretched too thin, and our board stepped up in a big way – a special shout out goes to John Patterson who helped us work through the financial pieces required from McLaren to make the project possible, Sam Tucker for his crew from HCMO who did a fabulous job on the remodel portion especially the bathroom) Kevin as board president who showed up to supply some muscle and general fix it knowledge, and a huge gold star to Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary who spent countless hours at the respite house completing projects, overseeing volunteers and wrangling up extra resources to get so many required little projects done. It feels really good to have a board that supports our agency as well as the Helping Hands Respite Care Board supported us this year, a huge heartfelt thank-you from me and the staff to all of you.

Care Providers Deserve Thank You

Where would we be without Care Providers? On several occasions our supervisors over the last year have commented on the QUALITY of the individuals who are coming to work for us as care providers. You – the care providers are the lifeblood of our agency. You, as care providers, are the workhorses, and the heart of our agency. The administrative staff can all be the best at what we do but without each of you, even when giving our best effort to the families we care for, all our efforts would be for naught. Your dedication, commitment and passion for the families in which you all work brings a smile to my face several times a day. I am thankful every day for the work you do, and the manner in which you accomplish that work, makes us an outstanding agency. Hardly a day goes by where a family member doesn’t call me or stop by my office to tell a “story” of an extraordinary effort from one of our care providers. Or of the close bond that has developed not only between the care provider and the person they are caring for, but the relationship and bonding that takes between the whole family and one of our care providers.
Speaking of families, they have shared stories with me themselves over the year about saved marriages, rekindled friendships between siblings, and the renewal of “date night” because of the services we provide each and every day. I am so thankful for our families who are able to entrust us to help them with a loved one so that the whole family has the opportunity to be in a better place.


Donors Keep Us Flowing – Thank You

If the care providers are the lifeblood, our donors are the engine that makes that lifeblood flow. Without their faith and support in the services we provide there would be no care providers to do the work. I am so thankful for a renewed relationship with Both AF Group and McLaren Greater Lansing, and our continued friendship with MSU, City of East Lansing, Dean Transportation, and our very good friends at Jackson National. It is important also to acknowledge those donors who have stepped up to become members of our Helping Hearts Giving Society, they continue to help us build a sustainable funding model where the emphasis is on caring and long term engagement. Whether you are a community funder, Helping Hearts Giving Society Member or a brand new donor or volunteer, you make the pieces come together for us.
When I started this piece I just wanted to say thank you to a couple of friends. I guess what I am most thankful for this year is that this piece is so long, because of having so many friends, agencies, families and staff to be thankful for. I love my job, I love what we get to do each day, and I am thankful that each and every one of you make my job as unique and special as it is. Happy New Year everyone, may your dreams, prayers and wishes for this year all come true.

All of us at Helping Hands believe that this New Year promises to be an even better year!