Safety is top-of-mind at Penn-Mar for both staff and the individuals they support. And according to Charlotte Quante, a DSP in the Day Program at Far Hills and a member of the Penn-Mar Safety committee, “When it comes to safety concerns and guidance, it’s good to remind people that they are not immortal!”
Charlotte is “passionate” about safety, especially in the program where she works. One of the roles of the Safety Committee is to recognize staff who have made significant efforts to train, enforce or prevent accidents in the Penn-Mar workplace and group homes. But recently she had the opportunity to suggest two individuals with disabilities who were worthy of recognition: Mervin Kearse and Andrew Benecewicz.
Mervin lives in a Penn-Mar group home and works part time at a local church-oriented facility at the Summit Grove camp grounds where he does laundry and cleans conference rooms, guest cabins and apartments.
Andrew is a bit younger, lives at home with his family and participates in Penn-Mar’s day program. He is anxious to return to the workforce but keeps very busy trying to spend more time improving his computer skills – a goal he and Mervin share. This led to the two gentlemen collaborating on safety-related presentations for Penn-Mar staff and individuals attending group gatherings.
With the aid of a Promethean board — an intuitive touch screen television with the feel of a tablet and internet connection —Mervin and Andrew are able to create and deliver their high-tech presentations. The 4-ft. by 3-ft. “big board” on wheels allows them to stream videos and search or display content. “Whatever you can think of, it does,” said Charlotte.
Mervin and Andrew use the board now located in Far Hills to present a variety of safety issues related to hurricanes and tornados, advice on what to do in the event of a fire, driving and traffic tips, safe food storage and stranger awareness, just to name a few.
What most impressed Charlotte was the duo’s meticulous research, whatever the topic at hand, and the fact that they always did a good job of asking current related questions to reinforce the data in each of their presentations.
“We sometimes made suggestions, but for the most part, Mervin and Andrew came up with their own ideas, sourced the information and visual support and printed out dialogue for their 10-15 minute presentations,” she explained.
“One of their weather reports included video of storm damage at Hershey Park and people floating down a street in a kayak during a flood. I wanted these two young men who have worked so hard and done such a good job to be recognized,” said Charlotte.
And given their informative and popular contributions, the Safety Committee agreed, presenting Mervin and Andrew with framed certificates, recognition at a group gathering of staff and individuals and the distinction of being the first non-staff individuals to be recognized with a Penn-Mar safety award.