9/30/14

Where in Connecticut is Marrakech?

Did you know that Marrakech currently provides services and supports in 46 towns and cities across the state of Connecticut?  Well, we do! And that list changes and grows on a regular basis.  So as of today, this is where we are in Connecticut:
Ansonia
Beacon Falls
Bethany
Branford
Bridgeport
Bristol
Cheshire
Clinton
Deep River
Derby
Durham
East Haven
Fairfield
Guilford
Hamden
Hartford
Hebron
Meriden
Middlebury
Middletown
Milford
Montville
Morris
Naugatuck
New Britain
New Haven
New Milford
North Haven
Norwalk
Oakdale
Orange
Plainville
Rocky Hill
Seymour
Sharon
Southington
Stamford
Stratford
Torrington
Waterbury
West Haven
Westport
Winchester Center
Windsor
Wolcott
Woodbridge

Looking at the map below, that is a lot of ground we are covering!  In fact, we provide services in every county in the state except for one!

Meet our new Chief Compliance Officer - Denise Canady!

Marrakech is proud to announce the appointment of Denise Canady to the position of Chief Compliance Officer.  Denise began her career here at Marrakech 18 years ago as a part-time program counselor.  Her new responsibilities include oversight of agency-wide Program Support Services including quality of life activities, building and vehicle maintenance, scheduling, overtime control, health and safety, developmental and behavioral services, nursing and other special services, licensing inspection preparation, and capital development.

Denise chairs Marrakech's Safety Committee and participates on several others in the organization. She is also the secretary/treasurer of the Elephant in the Room Boxing Club, a non-profit gym that encourages sportsmanship, health, and wellness for area youth.

Because Denise has been at Marrakech for nearly 20 years, many of us think we know her pretty well.  But, here are six things you may not know about Denise Canady.

  1. I have 10 sisters and 9 brothers. I am the 5th oldest girl.
  2. My best childhood memory is of me playing games outside with the neighborhood kids. We played kick ball, double dutch, red light/green light, hide and seek, and a host of other games. I can still double dutch jump rope!
  3. My first car was a Hyundai. When I went car shopping I saw a red Hyundai and a tan Hyundai in the lot. The red Hyundai had a price tag in the window for $750.00 and the tan Hyundai did not have a price tag on it. The salesmen sold me the tan Hyundai for $750.00. The next day I got a knock on my door from the general manager saying that they made a mistake and that the tan Hyundai was worth a lot more. He asked if I would take the red Hyundai instead. Of course I said no and kept the tan Hyundai. Their loss…
  4. Recently, I spent 10 days in Dubai. Dubai is very beautiful and rich with culture. It's also one of the wealthiest counties in the world. I was surprised to learn that the US dollar was worth a lot there. Our 1 US dollar was equivalent to $3.50 Dubai dollars. Needless to say our money went far. 
  5. Although I will be only 43 this November, I am looking forward to my retirement. I have been working since I was 14 years old so I've already put almost 30 years into the workforce. I can't wait until I can relax and travel the world.
  6. There are so many things that I love about working at Marrakech. I love that there is an opportunity for growth here. I love that we make positive impacts on the lives of the people we serve. I love that there are many employees that have worked at Marrakech for double digit years. I love that our President & CEO worked her way up the ranks and is now running the organization. 
Congratulations, Denise!


9/18/14

DDS’ Living the Mission Mentorship Program Celebrates Its First Anniversary


On August 18, 2014, the eight private organizations selected to be part of the Living the Mission Mentorship program, including Marrakech, gathered with our Department of Developmental Services (DDS) State partners at Middlesex Community College, where the original kick off took place one year ago.

Lead by Patrica Dillon of DDS, the organizations shared the small and large steps taken towards the State's transformation to Person-Centered Thinking, including individual success stories, learning achievements and our collective hopes for the future.

Because of this project, it is becoming a more common occurrence that we are able to spend time with our colleagues not to discuss rules, regulations and policies, but to discuss what matters most to all of us collectively; the State of Connecticut providing the greatest person-centered supports for individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. Many of the problem solving, brain storming, outcomes and action items developed at this meeting, along with past work groups for this purpose, have already been implemented at Marrakech. 

The “map” above was created during Marrakech’s internal kick off meeting with facilitators Michael Smull and Patti Scott on February 18, 2014.  This hangs in the office of Marrakech President & CEO, Heather LaTorra, as a constant reminder to stay focused on our priorities and to always be Living the Mission.


9/11/14

Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Our Young Adult Services Staff!

When the Young Adult Services (YAS) management team were told about Direct Support Professional's Recognition Week, they, along with their consumers, had quite a bit to say! And we love that.  Four staff were identified by consumers and management.

Shahiba Baptiste has worked for Marrakech since 2010 and is a Program Instructor in our YAS program. She traveled all the way to Florida to help ensure a young adult got to his new placement safely. The young man chose her to join him and she gladly accepted, traveling in a small medical jet all the way down.  The YAS Team appreciates Shahiba's willingness to go that extra mile!

Jofrey Beauduy has been a Marrakech employee since 2005 and is now the Lead Case Manager at YAS. When asked, one consumer said the following: "What he has done is more than any staff..., everything from helping me grow in my hygiene (he and I used to shave together) skills, but more importantly, GROW as a person and come out of my proverbial shell with both his humor and vast knowledge. Plus he cares about all the residents and wants them to succeed."

Jessica Staton is a Program Instructor at YAS and has worked for Marrakech since 2009. A YAS consumer wanted to recognize Jessica because of "her energy, zest for happiness, knowledge and humor [that] make super/deep cleaning time more fun and I learned a lot. The fact that she calls when I mop the floor in the apartment "Aruba Rumba" makes me think she cares about tailoring teaching strategies to my interests/passions not just giving me the Mop and expecting me to do it."

Ray Davitt started as an intern with Marrakech's YAS program in 2013 and was hired this past July as a Peer Program Instructor. He was chosen by a YAS consumer to be recognized for Direct Support Professional's Wekk because, "he gives me the courage to do my very best both with YAS stuff and stuff for B.A.S.S., my business. He also really gets working with someone with Asperger's like me, not to mention a DEVOUT New York Yankees and New York Rangers fan for sports as am I. Though he likes the Cowboys and I am a Giants fan (for football) we still get along great, and I love the fact that he likes sushi as much as I do too!"

Thank you, Shahiba, Jofrey, Jessica, Ray and the rest of the YAS team for making a difference in the lives of our residents.  Your efforts to be truly person-centered really do make an impact.




9/10/14

Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Maria Hartman and Darlene Evans!

Maria Hartman has been providing direct support at Marrakech for practically 20 years. She has been a great asset to the Marrakech team in ensuring Person Centered Services for many different individuals. She is well liked and respected by all. Lynn was so happy to honor Maria during Direct Support Professional Week, she was telling everyone that she has been working with Maria for 20 years, she is great and that she loves Maria.

Darlene Evans has been at Marrakech providing direct support for 7 years. Bill reports that Darlene is great and that she helps him out. He is happy when she comes to work with him and that she helps with things like budgeting.

Both Lynn and Bill were excited to honor Maria and Darlene for Direct Support Professional's Recognition Week!
From L-R: Lynn, Maria Hartman (back), Darlene Evans (back) and Bill

Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Mia Smokes-Boyd!


Mia Smokes-Boyd has been employed with Marrakech since 2012 and our Bridgeport Academy for Human Service Training (AHST) Program Specialist since 2013.  Mia has been recognized by her supervisors as someone who is caring, compassionate and who always follows through on student needs. Mia embodies the traits that are consistent with excellent customer service and the mission and vision of Marrakech.

Here are six things you may not have known about Mia:

What is a life milestone you can’t wait for?
I am looking forward to retirement. I just want to sit back and relax and look back like, what a life I have lived.

What time period in history would you most like to visit and why?
I would go visit the 1920’s. I would have made an awesome flapper.

What do you love about your job here at Marrakech?
I love to see the face of excitement once anyone achieves their goals whether it’s a consumer or staff. The look and feel of accomplishment is heartwarming.

What was your first car?
My first car was a 96’ Honda Civic.

What's one thing you still have on your "Bucket List"?
Something on my bucket list is to ride an elephant. Given the opportunity, I will probably chicken out.

What is one food you could not live without?
I love sweet corn. It’s always on my grocery list. 

Thanks to Mia, and all of our Direct Support Professionals, for making our work here at Marrakech possible!

Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Shavon Pruden!


Shavon Pruden has been an employee of Marrakech since 2011.  She is currently a Paraprofessional in our Family Support Services program.  We asked Shavon to share a few things about herself that we may not already know, and here is what she told us:

  1. If I could have lunch with someone famous, I would choose Barack Obama.
  2. One food I could not live without is hot wings!
  3. I like to sing in the shower. 
  4. I can’t wait until I buy a house!
  5. I love working at Marrakech, Inc. because I love helping others.
  6. The last book I read was East of Eden, by John Steinbeck.
Thanks for sharing, Shavon!  And, thanks for all you do in our Family Support Services program!


Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Greg Brown!

Greg Brown was hired to work at Marrakech in 1997.  From the day he arrived here we knew he was something special.  Seventeen years later, individuals he works with  can't say enough great things about him.

One individual that Greg has been working with for years stated, "Greg is a real good staff person, it is his attitude, he tries to help as much as possible, he has a good personality. I value our relationship."  The most powerful statement reported was, "There is nobody I know that could replace what he has done for us."

Greg has been working in our Independent Livening Support Services Program, providing supports to people who live in the community on their own.  Greg is a living example of person-centered thinking.  He understands his role in the lives of the people we serve, what is important to them, and exercises power with them as equals.  That is probably why he is well regarded and respected.

Greg's colleagues also recognize and respect him for the wonderful work he does.


Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Carli Steele!

Carlicia (Carli) Steele is an ATR Case Manager and Job Coach in our Vocational Rehabilitation Services program.  Employed with Marrakech since 2011 and in her current role since 2013, Carli helps individuals recently transitioned out of prison systems, those in recovery and individuals with disabilities find some stability in their lives and in their jobs. Carli is seen as a go-to staff and is regularly recognized by name in customer satisfaction surveys completed by our consumers.

We asked Carli the following six questions, and this is what she shared!

What is a life milestone that you can’t wait for? 
I can’t wait to get married.

What do you love about your job here at Marrakech? 
I love being able to give others hope and help them succeed. 

What was your first job
I got my first job when I was 16 and it was a cashier at Walgreens.

What was your first car? 
My first car was a 1996 royal blue Pontiac Sunfire.

What is your favorite past time? 
I could play candy crush for hours on end!

What is one food you could not live without? 
I absolutely love rice; I could not see myself living without it. LOL!

Thanks for sharing, Carli!




Marrakech's Home Ownership Program: A Perfect Way to Thank a Wonderful Direct Support Professional!

Joseph Morton has been working at Marrakech for the past 6 years as a Program Counselor.  Lucky for him, Shirlene Amoah, who celebrates her 10th anniversary here, had a great idea a few years back that was shared with the Board of Directors: Why not offer a home ownership program to help staff with the down payment on the purchase of a new house?  The Marrakech Board of Directors implemented this idea and now Joseph received the benefit, which assisted him with the purchase of his new home.

The people that Joseph supports state that he is a "good man".  His supervisor describes him as "super professional and always willing to do extra; the individuals love and respect him".  Thanks, Joseph, for all you do and congratulations on your new home!

And, thanks to Shirlene for the great idea and for her many years of direct support services she provided as well as her current work in our Business Office.


Above, Shirlene Amoah (right) congratulates Joseph Morton (left) on the purchase of his new home. 

9/9/14

Direct Support Professional's Week - Meet Amanda Vargas!

Amanda Vargas is an Autism Specialist in our Family Support Services program.  She has been a Direct Support Professional at Marrakech for two years. While some of you out there may know Amanda pretty well, we asked her to tell us six more things that we may not know about her...here is what she told us!
  1. I have a tea cup Chihuahua. He is a boy and is 6 years old. His fur is white with brown spots!
  2. The last book I read was The Purpose Driven Life (by Rick Warren). I am currently still reading it – its great book!
  3. I love how big Marrakech is and that there is always room to expand and learn (ongoing training). Before I became an autism specialist, I was a program counselor floater and I got to work in so many great programs; I got to meet a lot of great people and learn so many new things. I am very grateful and love what I do.
  4. The most exciting place I traveled was to be Puerto Rico. It is always a good time to go and see all the history and where my family is from. Also, Disney in Florida…who doesn't love Disney?!
  5. I can't wait for 10 years from now to see where I will be in my career and marriage and also to see where my younger brothers are, one of whom is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I can't wait to see all of their accomplishments.
  6. I have to say that my best childhood memory is going on vacations with my family and running around playing tag outside with no care in the world…and all the good foods the family would make when we all got together. Those times were great!!
Thanks, Amanda, for all you do at Marrakech!


9/8/14

Direct Support Professional's Week - Featuring Rosaura Escorbort!

Rosaura Escorbort has been employed with Marrakech, Inc. since 2001 and is now our Lead Vocational Specialist for our DMHAS-Funded Work Services program in New Haven.  We asked her some questions to find out a little bit more about her.  Here are six things Rosaura shared with us that you may not have known about her:

  1. I have a twin who is 2 minutes younger than me. She has 2 boys and I have 2 girls. Our children call themselves cousin twins. Up until 2001 we had the same type of jobs. It’s the year I decided to follow my dream job - working in the human service field.
  2. My best childhood memory is spending time with my sisters. No matter the activity including timeout. 
  3. I couldn't wait to be a mother. And it’s truly even better than I could have ever imagined it. I’m a mother of two wonderful young ladies. Now I can’t wait to be a grandmother. 
  4. What I love about my job most is the compassion the managers show and the ongoing training so that staff can grow and move up in the agency.
  5. If I could have lunch with any historical figure(s) it would be The Butterflies – the three Mirabal sisters who indirectly impacted the Hispanic community around the world, through what they did to directly impact the Dominican Republic.
  6. I love how people dressed in our great-grandmother’s times, so that would be the time in history I would love to visit.

Marrakech's Lead Vocational Specialist, Rosaura Escorbort (on left) poses with her twin sister.



9/5/14

“Grandma” Murphy Retires After Ten Years!



As we honor, appreciate and recognize our Direct Care Staff this week during Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, we would like to share a story about "Grandma" Lorine Murphy, who after 10 years of being a direct care staff and making an impact in the lives of others, has retired from Marrakech! 



When Lorine applied for a job at Marrakech 10 years ago, she already had a job working at Yale, and had been doing so for the past 25 years. Due to her husband’s illness, however, she had to find a part time job to supplement their income.  At the time, she was not sure that the job at Marrakech was the "right fit" for her; however friends who already were working here encouraged her to apply. They turned out to be right; it was a perfect job for Lorine!

Lorine was hired and trained to work at one of Marrakech’s Young Adult Services homes, which is a program funded by DMHAS.  She quickly became “Grandma” to some of the young adults. Throughout her time working with them, she must have made an impact on them, because at her retirement celebration, each young adult gave her a rose and honored her with touching stories and memories about her!

“Retiring from Marrakech after 10 years,” Lorine stated “was much harder than retiring from my job at Yale after 35 years”.  The relationships that she developed with the individuals in the program and the staff continue to be strong.  “The support and flexibility that Marrakech provided to me during my employment”, Lorine said, “was wonderful!”   The trainings that she attended over the years helped her grow both professionally and personally, with strategies and information that she could use with her own grandchildren as well as at work.  Instead of directing individuals, she learned, helping individuals learn to make their own choices leads to the best outcome. Loraine stated that the last training she attended, the training on Person Centered Thinking, was one of her favorite trainings.

We wish Lorine a Happy Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, thank her on behalf of all the lives she touched, and wish her all the best in her retirement!  We know that she will now be a natural support to the individuals she has worked with for the past ten years!