Accord Recognizes Outstanding Individuals with Annual Awards

Accord recently presented our annual Greatest Lives Awards for 2020. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the award ceremony was virtual and the awards were presented individually in March and April. These awards recognize staff and people we support for their outstanding personal and professional achievements and commitment to excellence.

The Listener Award is presented to an individual whose work represents an exceptional ability to listen and seek understanding with the people we serve. This year’s Listener Award was awarded to Ciara Curtis. The individuals Ciara supports as a Case Manager always have positive feedback to share. Ciara listens to their thoughts and needs and they in turn feel heard and supported. Ciara always takes the time to dive into complicated questions, situations, and concerns that come up with the individuals on her caseload to ensure she is getting as much information as possible before she tries to resolve anything. She is also very dedicated to the temporary cases she takes on. And, Ciara takes all feedback to heart and uses it to improve the quality and content of her documentation and Case Management skills.

Ciara Curtis, Listener Award Recipient

Diarra Palmer received this year’s Learner Award. The Learner Award is presented to an employee who displays an exceptional ability to learn from and alongside the people we serve. During the past year, Diarra provided Employment Supports to a broad spectrum of people. One such person was struggling with interpersonal skills at her job. Diarra began teaching and using concepts and methods she learned in her own Personal Empowerment training. Diarra has been able to find ways to emphasize this individual’s strengths and work with them on those areas where they need help. Diarra has really taken the time to learn who this person is and how to communicate with them effectively. Diarra is a wonderful mentor, someone who learns who the person is that she is working with and makes sure that they understand what is helpful to them to be successful.

Diarra Palmer, winner of the Learner Award

The Leader Award is presented to an employee who displays an exceptional ability to lead and inspire their colleagues and the people we serve. Marie Matson was the recipient of 2020’s Leader Award. Marie listens to the people she supports. When an individual she served was experiencing anxiety due to a change in ownership and staff at his home, Marie stepped up to support him and his family to discuss his options. They talked about the pros and cons of remaining in his current home or moving to a new location. They discussed the relationships he had and how it may or may not change. They created a plan with short-term and long-term goals so he could be comfortable knowing he had a plan and it was his plan on his timing. During COVID, Marie has supported staff and individuals to help them stay connected and safe. As one of the homes Marie works in had strong restrictions on visitors, Marie lifted up the anxiety happening with one person. The person was used to visiting her mother who lived in assisted living. Both Mom and Daughter were struggling. Marie found a way for them to start visits outside while social distancing. And when outside didn’t work, they used the screened porch as their separator with masks and distance. Teams look toward Marie for input, action, and support for the people they serve. When shifts need to be covered, not only does she take some, but staff cannot say ‘no’ to her when she calls to ask. That’s because they respect her leadership and look to her for guidance. Marie is never afraid to voice her opinion at any level within the organization.

Marie Matson received the Leader Award

Accord’s Home Health Team earned the Commitment to Excellence Award. The Commitment to Excellence Award is presented to a group of employees whose work represents “going above and beyond” in the implementation of our values, vision, and mission. Throughout 2020, the Home Health team demonstrated their extraordinary ability to serve program participants. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple unexpected staff and management resignations and long-term absences, addition of a new electronic health record system, and the May civil unrest event in Minneapolis — they worked as a unified team showing their commitment to excellence in getting the job done. Admirably, each staff member offered adaptability, knowledge, extra time, and patience as the program was faced daily with numerous challenges and uncertainties. Staff quickly learned and implemented strict infection control measures and modified their practices to assure the health and safety for not only themselves, but for clients and their households. Clients were well cared for in a COVID-safe and effective manner, with low incidence of COVID-19 illness. The staff’s ability to overcome barriers and assert their capacity in rebuilding the program and helping people live their greatest lives during this tumultuous year was exceptional. The extra conversations, reassurances, education, and warm concern with individuals and families served, all had tremendous impact. The Home Health team was resilient and resolute in their purpose of assuring that home health clients were well served, and that the Home Health Program survived such a difficult period.

Accord’s Home Health Team was awarded the Commitment to Excellence Award

In 2020, Accord selected three individuals that we support to receive our Greatest Lives Award. These individuals demonstrate exceptional and courageous efforts toward self-determination in living their greatest life. This award was presented to Angie Diebel, Jason Diller, and Sharon Williams.

Angie has been with Accord for 17 years. Angie worked in Digital Imaging for many years while she built her work skills, as well as her interpersonal skills. Angie has put in a lot of hard work and accountability over the last several years. Her attitude has been very positive! In addition to Digital Imaging, Angie explored a lot of different vocational opportunities in the last several years, and finally in 2018 found something that really fit her. She has been working at Crayola at the Mall of America for over two years now. She is awesome at her job and has taken on new roles and responsibilities with ease. During the pandemic, she has taken all of the closures and openings at Crayola in stride, and in the meantime has offered her services to work in Digital Imaging. It has been a pleasure to watch Angie grow, and everyone at the Business Solutions location looks forward to her continued growth and self-determination to see what she accomplishes in the future.

Angie Diebel, Greatest Lives Award Winner

Jason has received support from the Midway location and Employment team for years. 2020 brought not only COVID, but numerous other obstacles and challenges personally and professionally for Jason. After ten years at the Midway Walmart, Jason successfully transferred to the Bloomington Walmart when his store closed. Through all of the challenges, Jason continued to support himself and his Mom, being a friend and shoulder for anyone needing a smile and some encouragement. When he experienced a personal tragedy, he called on those he had come to trust and rely on. He leaned on his Personal Empowerment skills to connect to his own Core Values and chose to push forward, when many others would have thrown in the towel and walked away. Jason is not only a physical force, but a gentle giant, and a man who demonstrates exceptional and courageous effort toward self-determination in living his greatest life.

Jason Diller, Greatest Lives Award winner

Sharon works for St. Paul Public Schools as a Kitchen Helper. She began this job in September of last year in a temp-to-hire position and was permanently hired on by SPPS in February! Sharon worked incredibly hard to get hired permanently. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close in March, kitchen staff at SPPS dealt with a level of uncertainty about what their jobs would entail moving forward. Eventually, it was decided that kitchen staff would help deliver meals by school bus to the families of the district. This increased the number of hours Sharon would be working, but she took the challenge of learning a new job in stride. Added to the fact was the furlough of her Employment Consultant from April to August, leaving her with limited support. This did not stop Sharon in the slightest and she proved her resiliency through these challenging times. She continues to exude self-efficacy in the face of uncertainty. She continues to work hard and provides for her own child at home as well as the infant of a family member. Sharon has achieved many goals and continues to be diligent and responsible through these challenging times.

Accord is truly honored to work with these extraordinary individuals and proud to recognize them for their accomplishments. CEO Rita Wiersma says, “It means so much to me that we can come together and honor the people that went above and beyond this last year to help people live their greatest lives.”

Accord CEO Rita Wiersma