In an evening for community innovators to shine, staff at Woods Services, and Woods affiliate Tabor Services, were among those whose work was in the spotlight at the 2021 Greater Philadelphia Innovation Awards hosted by The Social Innovations Journal. The Jan. 21 event, presented virtually this year due to COVID-19, honored social innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers whose leadership, social impact and efforts in their communities make Greater Philadelphia a thriving region of innovation and opportunity for all people. The awards are presented annually by the nonprofit online magazine and voted on by the public.
We know how valuable our Woods team members are, and it was exciting to see their work for our residents and clients recognized publicly through the magazine and in front of the nearly 150 community leaders brought together via Zoom for the ceremony. The Woods stars honored on awards night are Karen Wilkins from Tabor Services, Dawn Diamond and the COVID Task Force members, and Kym Talerico and Avi Saltzman of Yellow Daffodil Flower and Gift Shop. Among the innovations they were nominated for are: tranquility rooms for employee well-being and retention, outdoor learning spaces created to maintain resident quality of life during pandemic lockdowns, and a program that provides work experience, develops confidence and independence, and even launched a jewelry line.
Read more to learn about these exciting, innovative, and award-winning programs underway at Woods and Tabor Services.
Innovations Improve Quality of Life during the Pandemic
We have all spent much time talking about and managing the coronavirus pandemic this past year. The “COVID-19 Innovations” category was an opportunity for organizations to share information about effective innovations in dealing with the outbreak. Woods and its COVID-19 Task Force members, led by Dawn Diamond, Darlene Barnes, Dr. Stephen Kolesk and Tine Hansen-Turton, deployed innovative strategies throughout the pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus to our residents and employees, including early adoption of masking, testing and other infection control measures, and converting some services to a virtual platform. Building outdoor classrooms, and creating a nature trail and an animal-assisted therapy program were innovative ideas for providing learning and exercise, and maintaining quality of life and engagement during a period of mandated isolation. Woods was honored with the category’s third place award.
Tranquility Rooms Transform Work Environment at Tabor
Karen Wilkins, chief human resources officer at Tabor Services, a member of the Woods Affiliate network, received third place honors in the “Healthy Food Access and Healthy Workforce Innovator Award” category for her efforts to ensure a supportive and nurturing work environment for employees. Focused on addressing workforce turnover that can result from a stressful and emotionally demanding job, such as with child welfare social work, Karen led a team of staff, maintenance workers and construction experts to transform the work environment by adding three Tranquility Rooms. The modified space features soothing sounds, accommodations for free in-person and virtual yoga classes, and massage chairs. In addition, a trauma-certified psychotherapist with child welfare experience is available for free private and confidential counseling for all employees in need. Karen understood the importance of a supportive organizational culture and how it would help families served by Tabor. Her efforts also contributed to Tabor Services achieving a 98 percent staff retention rate in fiscal year 2020.
Yellow Daffodil Experience Builds Confidence and Independence
Yellow Daffodil Flower and Gift Shop’s manager, Kym Talarico, and employee Avi Saltzman were recognized in the Workforce Development Award – Innovation in the Social Mobility Category. The nomination showcased Woods’ commitment to creating the broadest possible work opportunities that enable individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to contribute to the world around them in powerful ways. Product development, merchandising, sales and inventory are among the transferable skills taught at Yellow Daffodil. The work experience helps participants develop their self-confidence and gain independence. The runner-up award celebrated the environment of discovery Kym creates at Yellow Daffodil, encouraging employees to try new tasks that often ignite their passions, and the way Avi, who created a successful jewelry product line for the shop called Aviology, has inspired and supported others to follow his lead.
Congratulations to Karen, Dawn and the COVID Task Force, Kym, and Avi. We are so proud of your accomplishments! Thanks for making Woods shine so brightly.