We are proud to introduce you to the women and men across The Fedcap Group who were nominated by their executive directors for going “over and above” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These individuals have shown true leadership. Staying calm under pressure and never losing sight of the mission, they have embraced innovation and creative thinking. Working long and irregular hours, their resilience and can-do attitude have ensured that those in need continue to receive the services they rely on during this unprecedented crisis.
They represent The Fedcap Group at its best.
Nicole Bacon has stepped up to improve delivery of services during the current public health crisis. She is relentlessly upbeat and always willing to help—and, she brings substantial skills and experience to online teamwork.
Thanks to Nicole, BTC’s 16 sites in Maine have been collaborating daily using Microsoft Teams and meeting regularly through Zoom. The ten-day Power of Possible workshop has migrated online, as have virtual workshops on health and safety, resources for kids and all aspects of work readiness.
Nicole coaches instructors and staff on how to make effective online presentations, and her consistency and positivity have boosted morale across the BTC family.
Vicky Barokha hit the ground running when the pandemic hit. She reached out to employers, Rhode Island DOE, Office of Rehabilitation Services, and other community partners, all of whom were willing to continue providing services online.
To date, employer partners have conducted at least 20 informational interviews on Zoom with young people looking for jobs. Vicky has overseen the online shift of
Diversity & Inclusion training, Community-Based Work & Job Exploration Programs, and Career Connections – a 10-week curriculum for middle school students – and ensured that NCISI maintain its person-centered approach, focusing on individual skills and preferences. She is also spearheading new community
sponsorship and outreach efforts.
Gregg D. Caplitz took CWS’ existing programming and, working with the IT department, converted it to Zoom and Google Classroom.
Programs include work-readiness training and ServSafe—a national food-handling certification—and commercial cleaning. Working with the Boston Public Defenders Office and the courts, Gregg has engaged individuals who have been released from prison to home confinement in this training.
In partnership with other area nonprofits, Gregg is also spearheading efforts to provide three daily meals to as many as 4,000 Boston-area hospital workers. Virtual partnerships to address youth homelessness are also underway.
Jon Cray ensures that his Total Facilities Management work crews are equipped with PPE at all times. Every day, his crew members perform proactive, extra cleaning services to thoroughly disinfect all touchpoints and entire working areas.
If a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case is reported, teams put on Tyvek suits and perform “hotspot” deep cleaning.
Jon is a 35-year veteran of janitorial services, related trades and management. His crews know he has their backs and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself—a true leader
Amanda Dubois faced a dilemma when the lockdown began. The program screened, assessed and assisted people seeking substance use disorder treatment.
Assessments are difficult to do via electronic media, and most people seeking services don’t have Zoom capability.
Amanda and her team devised a way to screen people in their offices using PPE, social distancing and cleaning procedures to ensure safety. Amanda showed remarkable dedication, continuing her impactful and life-changing work.
Wil Edwards had to completely redesign the center’s successful business model when the pandemic hit.
The model, built on catering and corporate events, is focused on providing transitional employment, serving the community and generating revenue.
To build upon the existing FAC model, Wil has reached out to private and public partners, and now works with The Migrant Kitchen, World Central Kitchen, Feed the People and others to provide daily meals to NYC seniors, hospitals, homeless shelters, churches, mosques, and first responders.
During the lockdown, the Food Arts Center and partners have provided over 120,000 meals.
Silvia Estrada led innovative changes to the programs’ service delivery models. The RikerSMART program typically works with inmates in housing cells at Rikers Island jails.
The new model limits face-to-face time and uses a modified self-led curriculum with the same elements—including life skills, financial literacy, work readiness and anger management—delivered to a “safe bubble” at the jails.
Silvia’s team created a toll-free 24/7 hotline and initiated Zoom meetings with inmates and returning citizens to discuss transition plans and other concerns.
Jails to Jobs’ modified service model provides wellness checks and housing and employment services to those recently released who are living in city hotels, as well as food, gift cards, t-shirts and hygiene kits.
Sabrina Gibson annually oversees about 250 volunteers who provide an array of services to individuals living with a disability.
The most important part of these volunteer services are the deep and supportive relationships that develop between volunteers and those served—especially now that people are living in isolation.
Sabrina is spearheading the virtual transition, which will include remote reading, exercise and pet therapy (people won’t be able to touch the dogs, but they can see them!)
Our Voices Count, an MVLE advocacy group, will also be going virtual with guest speakers who will discuss topics of importance to those served.
Susan Hawkes and her staff of therapists maintained communications with families and incoming referrals as pandemic-related shutdowns began.
Families, hesitant to switch to the Zoom telehealth model—hoping for quick resumption of home visits—were encouraged to do so, and today almost all existing clients and new referrals are receiving online nursing, educational and nutrition services, as well as speech, physical and occupational therapies.
The therapists, none of whom had previously used telehealth, adapted quickly, using creativity, ingenuity and experience to engage and assist families. Therapists are serving six children per day, up from an average of four before the pandemic, and they are sharing and receiving telehealth best practice suggestions on social media with national provider groups.
Gloria Henry has played a critical role during the pandemic. She is visiting sites throughout New York City and parts of New Jersey, where staff of The Fedcap Group are working, to ensure that security staff at those buildings are taking the proper steps to keep people safe.
Gloria meets with security staff at these sites to discuss social distancing procedures and security measures.
“Most security staff are doing an excellent job,” she said. Always looking ahead, Gloria is planning to use everything she is learning about safety during emergencies in her training when classes resume. She is inspired by the great work of The Fedcap Group staff and security personnel throughout the region.
On the morning in March right after Seacoast Pathways closed its clubhouse, Joe Hill was busy moving all of its operations online.
Using Zoom and Google Hangouts, Joe notified all clubhouse members, and he established a virtual meeting schedule including morning, afternoon, and ad hoc meetings throughout the day about issues that arise and to share webinars. These meetings and activities mitigate the feelings of isolation among clubhouse members by keeping them active and engaged.
Joe also instituted a Sunday “Coping Café.” And now, one of these Zoom meetings is being used for community outreach on Facebook and other social media. These efforts reflect Joe’s creativity, empathy and humor and have resonated deeply with supporters, attracted new potential members and engaged others in the community eager to help.
Keith Hunt began looking into telehealth service delivery even before the lockdown began.
After consulting with state licensing agencies and taking all required steps to protect patient privacy, Keith was able to lead the way on implementing a telehealth model.
The migration to telehealth allowed years-long relationships between families and therapists to continue, bringing great comfort and essential services to families. Keith ensured that frequent staff meetings on Zoom continue and that best practices are shared with team members and catalogued in a database.
Barbara Kuczyra runs the second largest food bank in Port Jervis in Orange County.
Monthly outreach, which typically distributes thousands of pounds of food to hundreds of needy families, has switched to an appointment system. Three days a week, about 50 families per day come in at ten-minute intervals to receive 50-pound bags of food.
Inmates from a local prison typically help load 14,000 pounds of food per month. With the prison on lockdown, Barbara successfully reached out to police and DPW for help.
With only two volunteers, Barbara has also reached out to foundations, grocers, churches and food banks for additional supplies, and has expanded outreach to a growing number of needy families.
Jeff Lumpkins no longer meets in person with most clients. And yet, he continues to be a great listener, sees everyone as an individual, and addresses the fears and concerns of clients on Zoom, all while helping them find the job they want.
Even during these challenging times, Jeff continues to reach out to new employer partners—knowing that there will be a time when job placements will start to come back.
For clients currently employed as cleaners, baggers and cashiers, Jeff ensures that they feel comfortable, supported, valued, and that they are taking proper safety precautions.
Luanne Macri has shown tremendous leadership during this pandemic. Her staff is working with school districts to ensure that all students’ academic and social needs are met—and that they stay fully connected with staff as the school moves its curriculum and services online.
Teachers are conducting weekly IEP meetings with students and families and social workers are making frequent wellness check and helping guide students. Job coaches are working with the school’s 13 graduating seniors to complete their transition plans and help them get approval for an extended school year if necessary.
For students without laptops or internet access, the school is delivering work packets directly to their homes and picking them up when completed. The school is also making weekly food deliveries to the homes of all 57 students covering eight cities in five counties.
Ana Minter played a key role in opening up the agency’s Benefits Screener to the public.
Previously, it was for licensed partners only. Now, people in a growing number of states can access benefits for food, housing, mental health referrals, domestic violence services, and more.
The COVID Response Team also created packets for each state served by Single Stop that list existing and emergency benefits such as rental assistance and healthcare enrollment. Ana also leads weekly webinars for managers across The Fedcap Group so they can use the benefits screener to better serve those in need.
Valentina Morales led efforts to put services and workshops online for The Women’s Project, The Fedcap Group’s initiative to provide a viable alternative to pre-trial detention for women incarcerated at Rikers Island because they cannot afford bail.
With courts closed, appearances and mandated services for substance abuse and mental health are now offered online and are accessible to all participants, who are given cell phones.
Women can also participate in a book club and workshops online on topics including work readiness, resume writing, the arts, and those that deal with grief and isolation.
Jesse Perez had three days to guide a team of 50 therapists and case managers, and 430 clients and their families, from an in-person service model to telehealth.
Challenges included connecting with the families, getting the necessary documentation and signatures, developing new bilingual consent forms and procuring iPhones for those who needed them.
With perseverance and flexibility these challenges were met, and physical, developmental, speech and occupational therapies are being delivered to all client families who want them thanks in large part to Jesse’s leadership.
George Rios works closely with GSA and other partners to ensure office buildings that house key government agencies are sanitized and safe.
The safety of his 130+ crew members in the six buildings he manages is of paramount importance. Working with long-time vendors like Ocean Janitorial, George makes sure crews always have appropriate PPE.
George is always on call to respond to any emergency cleaning and works closely with partners to provide flexibility in scheduling crew members as conditions change—such as the closing of the NYC subway system during late-night hours.
Sandra Russell led the agency’s transition when the pandemic hit to ensure that it continued to deliver the same great services—just in a different way.
In a coordinated response to the results of a customer questionnaire that Sandra designed, she implemented an Innovation Group to conceive, develop and champion a new approach to service delivery, and to consider potential new approaches going forward.
Thanks to these efforts, most of those served now receive services online. Sandra, who sits on Fedcap UK’s Senior Leadership and Crisis Management team in addition to managing her own teams, also works closely with department heads to ensure that the agency not only supports its customers, but also its teams and subcontractors. Fedcap UK has received great accolades from funders for its seamless transition to remote working and online service delivery.
Arlene Sabdull migrated the agency’s free tax preparation services online.
Last year, the program, which normally relies on four community partners, served 21,000 clients.
Working around the clock, Arlene ensured that the virtual program is IRS and HIPPA compliant. She then trained a large group of community partners to provide the service to their own clients and shared the Single Stop appointment system. This has been of tremendous support to individuals needing help filing their taxes.
Teresa Shaw, Contract Manager for Kennedy Scott in the UK, manages a team of 17 people and throughout the lockdown, has guided them smoothly through the challenges of remote working, new delivery models, new IT infrastructure and much more.
Teresa has boosted morale in the face of adversity and as a leader, has continually shown confidence, commitment and compassion in daily Zoom calls with her team. Teresa and her team support individuals with multiple barriers to employment with job searches, action plan meetings and a variety of employability workshops designed to help them reach their individual goals.
Ryan Simpson, Program Coordinator at Community Work Services, took CWS’s innovative Power of Possible job readiness training workshop from the classroom to Zoom and restructured it to provide critical support to participants who are struggling during this challenging time.
The workshop now emphasizes resiliency throughout the training to help and support individuals who are anxious about finding or keeping jobs. Participants are reminded that CWS employer partners are still hiring, and they are encouraged both to reach out to employers and to use their strengths and talents to overcome the current obstacles.
Mithie Solis, Admissions Liaison for Easterseals Central Texas (ESCTx), has taken on many new roles–doing anything and everything to help ESCTx continue to serve during this crisis. She manages Medicaid insurance verification and authorizations for audiological services.
Mithie delivers hearing aids to patients who are immunocompromised and manages scheduling and reception for the patients that visit the site for hearing tests—checking temperatures, ensuring that everyone uses Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adhering to safety guidelines. Mithie, who is bilingual, also provides assistance to ESCTx’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program, and found protective masks when they were in short supply.
Vanessa Stergios assisted programs participating in employment training and credentialing, as well as provided information about community resources to partners such as Teamsters Military Assistance Program, the Utility Workers of America Military Assistance Program, and the AFL-CIO that help to remove barriers in transition and increase quality of life for veterans and their families.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in partnership with The Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Foundation and Peoples Gas, Vanessa and the team were able to quickly provide emergency assistance to displaced veterans in the Chicago area.
Kyle Tomczak has been working with his team nonstop since the lockdown began.
As programs and services across The Fedcap Group migrated online and virtually all meetings switched to Zoom, Kyle and the IT team made it happen.
They are teaching people how to use technologies such as virtual private networks (VPN) and Zoom telehealth and ensuring that laptops are dispersed throughout the agency. Kyle and the IT team set up an IT Help Line that is open 8 am-6:30 pm EDT on weekdays, and 10 am-4 pm on weekends. They are the technological engine that keeps The Fedcap Group moving.
Dustin Ward worked double duty during the lockdown—managed program elements, provided direct service and filling in for other staff. He led daily debriefing Zoom calls with staff, and after an initial influx of clients when the pandemic hit, Dustin tracked daily productivity of staff, including services provided and revenue captured. He never lost sight of the mission—to change lives.
Dustin’s positive, calm demeanor coupled with strong and steady leadership were exactly whatwas needed during this challenging time.
Eric Waters has encouraged staff to see the COVID-19 impact as a new opportunity to deepen and transform client engagement.
Specifically, Eric initiated a remote participation model where participants join virtual groups, one-on-one mentoring, and case management sessions.
This work is fully funded under Wildcat’s contracts and has driven remarkable improvements in client contact. Since the remote initiative has been implemented, the number of contacts with participants has doubled and absence has plummeted.
Lora Winghart oversaw the transition of services offered by ESNY’s Mental Health and Diagnostic Center in Rochester to an online format.
The complex transition included working with the clinic’s staff to reach out to client families and manage state-mandated paperwork—while providing counseling, medication management and other services; managing staff coordination and testing; and still doing intake.
The Kessler Center teaching and services were moved online to serve the center’s youth, and similar adaptations were made for the agency’s three community group homes for adults.