It was a big night for staff at Woods Services and our affiliates at the 2022 Greater Philadelphia Innovation Awards on January 27. The event, hosted by The Social Innovations Journal, recognized ideas that are making Greater Philadelphia a thriving region of innovation and opportunity for all people. Woods’ Recreation and Maintenance Departments were honored with a first place award in the Healthy Communities and Ecosystems category, and the Woods’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee received third place in the Social Investors category.
Staff and projects from Allies, Brian’s House, Woods Community Services, and Woods’ healthcare team were also recognized during the event.
The awards are presented annually by the nonprofit online magazine and voted on by the public. Woods has participated each of the past five years.
“The Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards program is a terrific opportunity for Woods to share the many impactful programs that are benefitting our community,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, Woods president and CEO, and a co-founder of the Social Innovations Journal and Lab. “I’m so proud of all of our Woods’ and affiliate staff who participated and were recognized for their innovative and impactful initiatives. Sharing ideas and learning from the ideas of the other award participants helps us all address some of the most challenging issues we face as a community and work together to find solutions.”
You can read more below about our seven innovative programs that were celebrated at the event and view pictures and a full list of all winners and runners-up from the ceremony, which was held virtually.
FIRST PLACE WINNER
Innovations in Health Living – Healthy Communities and Ecosystems
Elizabeth O’Toole and the Woods Services Recreation and Maintenance Departments
Woods Recreation and Maintenance teams sprang into action during the pandemic, creating a quarter-mile long nature trail through the woods with educational and recreational activities and an outdoor classroom for Woods’ 530 residents. They also developed a barnyard and a partnership with Home Stretch Horse Rescue that welcomed horses, alpacas, goats, chickens, potbellied pigs and rabbits to Woods, providing animal assisted therapy that helped residents cope with stress, anxiety and trauma brought on by the pandemic. When faced with the challenge of providing residents with activities that would bring them comfort and delight and reduce isolation, the teams envisioned and delivered an environment that created wonder and enjoyment for children and adults served by Woods that will continue to evolve and benefit them for years to come.
THIRD PLACE WINNER
Social Investors: Innovative Investor Strategies.
Innovative Investor Strategy Leading to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Woods Services Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee
Woods’ EDI Committee, comprised of employees from throughout the organization, has created a welcoming and inclusive environment and culture that greatly values and respects diversity and inclusion. Throughout Woods’ campus, they displayed the flags of 53 countries representing the birthplaces of Woods’ workforce. On a flagpole in front of the Human Resources office, they fly flags representing other types of diversity. The flag display honors and celebrates Woods’ diverse workforce and the differences that contribute to Woods’ rich organizational cultures, as well as serves as a visual daily reminder to respect different perspectives. The group also organized a One Woods. One World. day to celebrate United Nations Day and its alignment with Woods’ core values.
COMMUNITY IMPACT, INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS
Innovative cross-sector approach to solving complex social and environmental issues on a large scale
Lori Plunkett, Stephanie Bartley and James Kelly, Brian’s House
The vocational team of Brian’s House developed a unique partnership with the regional branch of the American Red Cross to provide job training and placement for individuals with intellectual disability to support Red Cross efforts. The pandemic had an isolating effect on many people with intellectual disability whose programs closed down, some permanently. Now individuals of all abilities, including those with mobility challenges, are contributing to supporting Red Cross efforts and donors.
Innovative service models leading to earning a living wage and economic freedom
Darren Garansi, Allies
Allies has created an innovative certification program for Direct Support Professionals, addressing the national direct care workforce crisis which affects all health and human services sectors, and the retention and poverty rates of this workforce. The initiative links certification courses to college credit and degree programs, resulting in advancement up the career ladder, increased wages and improved retention, providing tangible supports to a workforce that is essential to the safety and well-being of people with intellectual disabilities.
COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Innovative service models leading to emotional, psychological, and social well-being
Ryan Garrison, Monica Moser and Roy Leitstein, Woods Community Services
The Woods Community Services program brings together the right model, supports and highly qualified direct care staff and therapists to meet the needs of individuals with both intellectual disability and severe behavioral challenges. The novel program provides services right in the home, rather than requiring travel to obtain the services. Specially trained direct care staff and therapists ensure individuals make clinical progress and gain independence, so they can enjoy work, play and time with friends. The program has already had a tremendous impact on an individual who previously spent nearly a year in a hospital because no program existed to support their needs.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES AND ECOSYSTEMS
Innovative service models integrating the Social Determinants of Health into Health Care
(Both Allies and Woods Services were finalists in this category.)
Michael Haggerty, Allies
By partnering with a forward-thinking home developer, Allies is working to meet the needs of medically fragile residents with intellectual disabilities in New Jersey. Allies’ specialized medical group homes use an innovative approach and design that addresses all of the life domains-social determinants, combined with intensive medical supports, to ensure the greatest level of independence and a welcoming, beautifully designed environment.
Dr. Stephen Kolesk and Dr. Sailaja Musunuri, Woods Services
Woods integrates health care for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with behavioral healthcare to create a seamless and coordinated plan of care that achieves better overall health outcomes for the individual, delivers services that are inclusive and diverse, and decreases cost to the healthcare system. Woods is currently advising in the creation of and piloting the first of its kind integrated electronic health and behavioral health record that facilitates better outcomes through sharing of data.
View a list of all award categories, winners, runners up and photos:
View video of the award ceremony:
Social Innovations Lab at Woods
In addition to participating in the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Awards, since 2017, Woods has held four Social Innovations Labs for employees, moderated by the Social Innovations Journal and its Social Innovations Institute and Lab. Several of the award nomination initiatives were developed in one of the Woods’ innovations labs. The program has created a culture of innovation at Woods, and has launched more than five social enterprises, including Woods Wear, a direct-to-garment printing business; and Blue Violet, an Archway Programs-operated flower and gift shop.