SSM Summer 2021 Issue

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 35

18 Road to Responsibility (RTR) is yet again going above and beyond for its staff and the individuals it serves. RTR, one of the region's largest and most successful nonprofit organizations that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), recently undertook the enormous task of coordinating vaccine clinics in its 49 residential homes. When RTR learned that the CDC would partner with Walgreens and CVS to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at congregate care programs, it signed up immediately and submitted all required information. RTR's staff quickly took the necessary action to effectuate the clinics: Educational emails, videos and articles went out to employees, offering them the opportunity to be vaccinated and encouraging them to make an informed decision, and house managers contacted residents' guardians and issued consent forms. "Residential nurse director, Julia Barruzza, worked around the clock to coordinate the clinics," says RTR's Director of Development, Erin Cohen. "We give Julia and the entire nursing staff immense praise, because this was not an easy undertaking. In addition to scheduling vaccines for our residents, they needed to take into account our entire staff that works in various programs throughout our catchment area. A Walgreen's employee and an RTR nurse were required to be at each location to administer the vaccine and complete the necessary monitoring. Julia and the team worked on all of this, while also conducting the routine coronavirus testing that is done every two weeks." The hard work resulted in an unbelievable 182 individuals and 240 employees getting their first vaccine doses in the first half of February. Says Barruzza: "I see this vaccine as the light at the end of the tunnel; our way out of a long dark period. This past year has been very difficult for our residents and employees. I am excited that the vaccine will protect myself, my family, my community and the individuals we serve. The vaccine is our ticket to some semblance of normalcy." Normalcy would mean that individuals could have regular indoor visits with family and loved ones again, and reengage in the many in-person day support, employment and specialized group activities that RTR provides. RTR has added a diversity council to its many programs, which arranges for individuals and staff to share their traditions and culture, and also provides diversity training. Says RTR CEO Christopher White, E.d., "One of the strengths of RTR has always been the diversity of our workforce. The different perspectives have created a richer environment for all of us than would be the case otherwise. Our Diversity initiative seeks to foster understanding between peoples with different backgrounds, to provide a forum for education and to support social justice. Ultimately, discrimination of any type goes against our core Mission since the people we serve have long been victims of discrimination, misunderstanding and diminished expectations within the broader society. Thankfully, things are continuing to change in a positive manner and we hope our Diversity initiative will help further that momentum." Understanding and celebrating people's differences and traditions go a long way toward Making Lives Better, which is RTR's mission statement. 62% of RTR's employees are minorities and they come from 34 different countries, the flags of which ROAD TO RESPONSIBILITY MEETS THE DIFFICULTIES OF 2020 BY FOSTERING UNITY AND WELL-BEING By Erica Ford

Articles in this issue

view archives of SouthShoreMagazine - SSM Summer 2021 Issue