The Resource Center presents annual employee awards

Tonia Brown, Brigitte Hodnett and Linda Knight received The Resource Center’s major wards for 2012 at the agency’s 28th annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon. They were honored for the roles they play in improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Brown, vocational skills instructor in the Jamestown Rehabilitation Department, received the Norma J. Smith Award for excellence in direct support.

“She is caring and helpful and loves all of the people she serves,” said Tony Prinzi, assistant executive director for labor relations, in announcing the award.

“She exemplifies quality of work and relationships. Many of our participants light up when they see her and have a great attachment to her. She not only furthers the mission statement of TRC by consistently promoting independence with the individuals that we serve, but she also fiercely advocates, improving their quality of life.”

The award was created in memory of the late Norma Smith, who worked for TRC from 1983 to 1991. Her daughters, TRC employees Sherri Eccles and Melissa Rasmussen, were on hand to present the award to Ms. Brown, a TRC employee since 2001.

Hodnett, a direct support professional trainer, received the Trainer of the Year Award.

“As a DSP trainer, she spends endless hours with the staff she trains on a daily basis and takes the time to train staff on Sign Language so they can better communicate with the individuals they support,” Prinzi said of Ms. Hodnett, a TRC staffer since 1991.

“She has an extraordinary talent of being able to keep up with all the updated information and individual plan of protection of all the individuals who reside in the homes on her caseload. She has also trained new hires in wheelchair tie-down and fills in for the main instructor when needed, and has trained staff who began their careers as DSPs and have gone on to medical aides and assistant managers in the organization,” Prinzi continued.

“Our trainer for 2012 consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, is reliable, works hard, and wins the respect of all those who she serves, and always with a positive attitude and smile.”

Knight, the manager of TRC’s home on Cole Avenue in Jamestown, received the agency’s top honor, the Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award. The award is named in honor of Trusso, a former county legislator who served more than 35 years on TRC’s board of directors and continues to serve on a board advisory committee.

“(Knight) exemplifies the mission and core values of the agency … (and) encourages the most possible independence with our participants,” Prinzi said. “She always advocates for our participants and encourages them to advocate for themselves. She recognizes the human uniqueness of the people she supports and recognizes each person as valuable, and is always respectful to everyone.”

Prinzi added that Knight, who has been with TRC since 1992, is active in the community. She is a member and past president of the Jamestown A.M. Rotary Club.

“I didn’t get to this point in my career, or receive this award, without the help of many people,” Knight said. “There are so many people in this room who are deserving of this award. We do make a difference in the lives of the people we serve, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The Resource Center has been supporting people with disabilities in Chautauqua County since 1958.