Pair Receive Employee Honors At TRC

Robin Kestler, left, and Jennifer Herron pose with their awards.

Jennifer Herron and Robin Kestler received The Resource Center’s top employee honors for 2019.

The awards were presented during TRC’s annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon, held recently at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron.

Herron, a life coach for people with disabilities who has worked at TRC for 18 years, received the Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award. She was honored for her efforts on behalf of two people who faced significant challenges last year. In one case, Herron assisted a woman who was living on her own when medical complications made it difficult for her to stay healthy. Herron suggested a shared living situation and then supported the woman to make it happen. This included helping to organize a household sale, being available by phone to provide the emotional support needed to get through the transition, and helping the woman move.

The second example involved a person who became pregnant. During most of the pregnancy, Herron was the woman’s only support staff. One of the most important aspects of this situation was ensuring that the necessary pre-natal care and monitoring were provided. Herron helped the woman schedule her medical appointments and transported the woman to and from those appointments.

“Jen does all this behind the scenes, and never talks about the great things she does,” said Mark Morton, TRC’s assistant executive director for employee relations. “The work that she did this year is worthy of this award.”

The Employee of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Joe Trusso, a former Chautauqua County legislator who served on The Resource Center\’s board of directors for 38 years.

TRC’s other major employee honor is the Norma J. Smith Award. It is presented to a staff member who has excelled in providing direct support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 2019 award was given to Kestler, who has worked at TRC for 24 years. She was honored for her efforts in her role as the leader of a Day Habilitation Program room at the Michael J. Raymond Center on Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown.

The projects she leads or has involvement with are many — the Pickers Club, supporting people with disabilities to garden, organizing an annual craft bazaar, assisting people in making puppets and putting on a puppet production, among otherse. In addition, for many years Kestler has overseen the creation of the awards given to participants at the Laurel Memorial Run & Walk, and organized the kickoff breakfast before the Laurel Run flag relay.

In the community, Kestler puts forth extra time and effort so people with disabilities can be part of the annual “GROW Jamestown Garden Fair and Home Show.” The event enables area residents to see and learn about the things made by people with disabilities in the Pickers Club and TRC’s Creations Art Program.

“Robin is described as a courageous, kind and living person,” Morton said. “She brings many gifts on a daily basis to each and every person she comes in contact with.”

The award was created in memory of the late Norma Smith, who worked as a direct support professional at The Resource Center from 1983 to 1991.

Patricia Perlee, the president of TRC’s board of directors, congratulated Herron and Kestler.

“Your stories and your actions have inspired us,” she said.


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