Grantee submission by: Sister Maryalice Jacquinot, IHM, President and CEO

How did the funding or non-monetary support you received from the Foundation impact your organization and/or the community?

We are grateful to Moses Taylor Foundation for the Saint Joseph’s Center Direct Support Professional Wage Increase Initiative grant funding. Saint Joseph’s Center’s goal of providing high-quality, life-affirming care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is enhanced through a more stabilized local workforce. This stability was crucial during the pandemic. Today, more than ever, we need stable direct care staff who are committed to support the mission and values at Saint Joseph’s Center in order to maintain the health and safety of the vulnerable individuals served. The wage increase continues to have a significant impact on the recruitment and retention of Direct Support Professionals (DSP). The 2022 Direct Support Professional and Frontline Supervisor Compensation Study, conducted by a consortium of provider associations in Pennsylvania, provided data for Saint Joseph’s Center to compare our results. The report showed the statewide average DSP hourly wage of $16.83, while the starting wage, after orientation, at Saint Joseph’s Center is $17.15. The study also showed the statewide average DSP turnover to be 35.7%, while the DSP turnover at Saint Joseph’s Center is 30.2%. We believe that the wage increase in July 2019 put us in a better position to withstand the unavoidable staffing turnover caused by the pandemic.

Share a quote or anecdotal story from a client or employee of your organization that illustrates the impact of your work.

Tamika Gonzales was named Direct Support Professional of the Year for Saint Joseph’s Center Intermediate Care Facility (one of four DSP of the Year awardees). She joined Saint Joseph’s Center six years ago. Her key to happiness, both for those she cares for and for her coworkers, is to always come in with a good attitude. She is always positive, giving 100% undivided attention, making residents laugh and smile, building trust, and treating others how she would want to be treated. Tamika enjoys working on communication, learning how to know what a resident may need by their eyes or actions. She says “they will always, always lead your day and how it is going to go. So I get my happy, jolly self in here every day and I love it”.

Tamika shared something that touched her life and that she could relate to. When one of the residents moved into Saint Joe’s from a nursing facility, he would not speak even though we knew he was verbal. Tamika knew his story and kept working with him. She gained his trust and helped him feel comfortable with her. They built a bond but he was still not talking. Then one day, “he rolls up to the table, looks at me with a huge smile and says ‘shush Meeka’ laughing and smiling the whole time. HE KNOWS MY NAME!” She was so excited to hear him and to hear her name! She tells this story with such excitement and passion knowing that he is comfortable with her, and she is a part of his journey. Tamika loves what she does and we are thankful for the caring, compassionate, person she is! She embodies these selfless characteristics and ensures the highest quality of care for the individuals she supports. In Tamika’s words “I love what I do, it’s important and means so much.”

What do you most want the community to know about your work and/or what excites you most about the future of your organization?

This year Saint Joseph’s Center celebrates “135 Years of Loving Care,” continuing the tradition of serving the community since 1888. Saint Joseph’s meets the need through residential, community, and home-based services, and outpatient therapy, maternity, family and adoption services. The newest program, Trinity Child Care Center, relocated in 2019 doubling its capacity. Saint Joseph’s Center is now looking into an additional location to meet the needs of children who need nursing care throughout the day while parents are at work or school. Over the years the mission remains steadfast and growth continues.

While addressing the community need continues to be a focus of Saint Joseph’s Center, we could not fulfill our mission without our staff. All staff, including Direct Support Professionals, ensure Saint Joseph’s Center continues to provide individuals and families who have special needs the opportunity to develop their abilities and potential to the fullest extent possible. Currently, we are most excited about our continued initiatives around ensuring we recruit staff who support our mission, but also retain those staff.