The Resource Center presents its annual employee awards

The Resource Center presented its three major em-ployee awards for 2013 at its annual Service Recog-nition Luncheon.

The Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award went to Johnny Tooley, who has worked for The Resource Center since 2004. He is the special projects coordinator for the Day Services Program.

Over the years, Tooley has been instrumental in championing and personally advancing a number of initiatives. He was one of the driving forces in not only working with the city of Jamestown to permit The Resource Center to create the Riverwalk Community Labyrinth (located across the street from TRC’s Michael J. Raymond Center on Jones and Gifford avenues), but also in supporting individuals with disabilities in creating the labyrinth and learning to do the maintenance and groundskeeping that are required.

In addition, after the program’s founder retired, Tooley took over TRC’s painting program for people with traumatic brain injuries, and he has been able to expand the program and get the community involved.

Tooley also was cited for helping to adapt NASA’s “Train Like an Astronaut” program so that it could be effective in improving the health of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Last year, he oversaw TRC’s participation in a worldwide educational and athletic competition organized by NASA; the event culminated in TRC service recipients and staff participating in a live, interactive web broadcast with NASA officials. A NASA representative also came to Chautauqua County to assess how TRC had adapted the Train Like an Astronaut program. Under Tooley’s leadership, the program has been a success, and other agencies similar to The Resource Center are seeking to get involved.

Anthony Prinzi, TRC’s assistant executive director of labor management, announced the awards. Of Tooley’s accomplishments highlighted above, Prinzi said, “These are just a couple of examples that this individual has coordinated outside of his regular duties and always does many things with a positive attitude and keeps the interests and needs of those we serve a priority.”

The award is named in honor of Joe Trusso, who served on TRC’s board of directors from 1967 to 2005 and who is a strong advocate for employees and for individuals with disabilities.

Katrina Gibson received the 2013 Norma J. Smith Award for excellence in direct support. Gibson is a 15-year employee who works as a direct support professional in one of TRC’s homes.

Gibson was cited as being a model employee who has a positive effect on the home’s residents. She does an exceptional job of giving the residents personal attention and she has taught them useful skills. She leads by example, knowing each resident’s safeguards and milestones and she follows the home’s policies.

“She not only furthers the mission statement of TRC by consistently promoting independence with the individuals that we serve, but she also advocates improving the individuals’ live,” Prinzi said of Gibson.

Last year, Gibson took on the challenge of trying to become a certified direct support professional. Her supervisor reported that taking part in this program has enabled Gibson to grow personally and professionally.

“You can see her light up sharing the knowledge she has gained while taking these classes,” her supervisor, Philip Thomas, wrote in nominating Gibson for the Norma J. Smith Award. “This is something that she is very proud of.”

The award was established in honor of the late Norma J. Smith, who worked at The Resource Center from 1983 to 1991.

The Trainer of the Year Award was presented to Peggy Elofson, who has been with TRC since 2002. She is the agency’s quality assurance and quality improvement clinical educator.

Elofson provides TRC’s medication administration training each month, as well as orientation training for new employees.

Those who have taken her training say that she teaches in an engaging way that makes learning fun and easy.

Additionally, Prinzi noted that Elofson “is always available to speak with staff with any health care questions they may have regarding care and follow-up of the people in our programs. She always makes time for staff when they have health questions about themselves.”

The three award recipients each received a trophy and a check. The awards were funded through TRC Foundation.