ESAAL 2020 All-Star Staff Award Recipients 

Every community is filled with stars, but there are some that shine a little brighter than the others. Someone who rises above. Someone who saves the day. These heroes often accomplish the seemingly impossible or are always there when we need them the most.  In honor of National Assisted Living Week, ESAAL recognizes the following 2020 All-Star Staff Award recipients.  Click their name to jump to their story.

Dawn Blish, Ghent Assisted Living // Jennifer Turner, McPeak's Adult Home // Deborah Foster, LPNThe Cambridge // Anna Miller, Chenango Valley Home //   Tirhas GhebremichaelThe Bristal at White Plains  //  Kelsey Persons, The Landing of Brighton  //  Jackie Lebau, 80th Street Residence   //       William Fulgoni, Valley Vista Adult Home/Assisted Living Program // Teasha Wells, LPNPlattduetsche Home Society // Sharon MillerBrooklyn Boulevard ALP // Ginger BonnerAmber Court of Westbury

Dawn Blish, Home Health Aide, Ghent Assisted Living, Ghent, NY 

DawnDawn has worked for the facility for  years. She is a dedicated compassionate care giver and team player. Dawn works our 5am-1pm shift that typically has another team member assisting her to provide am care to 40 residents on the assisted living program and attending to their individual needs daily. Since July, Dawn has managed to work this shift alone (two med techs are on duty as well). She has maintained a positive atmosphere, adjusted her daily work routine to enable her to provide above satisfactory care to all residents on the assisted living program without disrupting their daily routine. She has consistently worked her days off since July to make sure that there is someone here to provide care for the residents- all while dealing with her own personal family affairs at home.

Nominated by: Meghan Kelley, Administrator, Ghent Assisted Living

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Jennifer Turner, Assistant Administrator. Case Manager, McPeak's Adult Home, Patchogue, NY 

Miss Turner consistently communicated with staff every step of the way during the pandemic. By constantly communicating developments being implemented by the Department of Health, and ensuring our compliance with the mandated protocols and new procedures for protecting all of the residents of the facility as well as staff members, Miss Turner helped our facility to become COVID free over two months ago. Her newfound obsession with disease prevention benefits the community and personnel every day!

Nominated by: James McPeak, Administrator

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Deborah Foster, LPN, The Cambridge, Cambridge, NY 

Debbie always has the residents needs first in her mind. She is phenomenal and what I consider having my own ‘Teepa Snow’ on staff. She has the same go get ‘em personality and is very educated on ALL of the challenges that our residents face. She will willingly attend to residents who she knows are going to require the highest level of care/attention. She is our trainer because we hope a little of her love rubs off on everyone she works with. Recently she had some challenges in her own life and you would never have known it because she came in everyday with the same determination to provide the highest quality of resident care that she says 'OUR RESIDENTS DESERVE"  She is awesome and I am proud to have someone like her on my team.

Nominated by: Matthew Mapes, Administrator

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Anna Miller, Activities CoordinatorChenango Valley Home, Norwich, NY 

AnnaAnna has done a phenomenal job in spite of the COVID-19 restrictions placed on our residents and community. She has kept moral up for residents and staff, has worked with families to coordinate virtual experiences that maintained a strong connection between residents and their families. She has continued to conduct activities within the guidelines s that residents continued to experience a new normal that was very close to their usual routine. Despite the challenges she continues to come to work each day with a smile and ready to make residents happy.

Nominated by: Jennifer Randall, Executive Director

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Tirhas Ghebremichael, Housekeeper, The Bristal at White Plains, White Plains, NY 

TirhasTirhas has worked for the Bristal at White Plains for 4 1/2 years as a housekeeper. During her employment she has been recognized for going above and beyond everyday by our residents and families. On many occasions I have received an email and handwritten letters from families and residents praising her work and her kindness. Tirhas is devoted to our residents and treats every one of them as family. She is always respectful to the residents and takes pride in the way she cleans and maintains apartments. Her time and attendance is impeccable and she gets 5 stars alone for that!! She is reliable and well respected and liked by her peers. Tirhas knows what it takes to work as a team and respect the ideas of others and is always willing to listen to their ideas. Our residents get very excited to know she is working on their floor and really enjoy just sharing conversations with her. She has a smile to light up times square and we are VERY LUCKY to be fortunate enough to work alongside Tirhas. Kudos to our ALL-STAR; your enthusiasm and kind heart shine every day. Thank you Tirhas :)

Nominated by: Laureen Kelly, Executive Director

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Kelsey Persons, Memory Care Manager, The Landing of Brighton, Rochester, NY 

I am so proud to nominate Kelsey Persons as an all-star to the Landing of Brighton.  Kelsey came to us in December of 2018.  She spent her first year, hiring and training staff, learning all about the residents and their families and creating an awesome work environment and loving home to our residents.  She devoted time to programming, understanding that keeping our memory care residents focused on something other than TV, would help with boredom and loneliness. 

Then our community was hit with the COVID-19 virus Kelsey literally kept our memory care going.  Daily, she would be showering our residents, toileting them, helping with the food and spending hours working on the staffing schedule to get some relief.  She worked 14-hour days, several days in a row, to make sure our residents were safe, well cared for and loved.  I never heard her complain.  Kelsey never missed a day of work.  Our company also built a Cohort unit to  have our COVID residents stay in until they tested negative.   Part of the memory care neighborhood was used for this and so by default, Kelsey really ended up making sure this was always staffed with the same people and supported them too, often having to work for hours in the unit if she could not find anyone to work.

It's not easy day after day, dealing with all the challenges you face taking care of people with dementia, but somehow, Kelsey puts a smile on her face, patience in her heart and love in her soul for the work she does.  I trust her.  The best way to put it is in an excerpt from a family that had their loved one here in the memory neighborhood. This is just one of the paragraphs in the letter the family wrote: 

"Over the past year, Margaret benefited greatly from Kelsey Person's "hand at the helm" of the Memory Care unit.  Kelsey was always approachable to us, and from our observations is actively involved in the care of all residents.  We additionally noticed that the morale and stability of the many aides seemed to improve markedly under her direction, which could only have had a positive effect on the quality of care:  the care had already been fine, but there is little question that it improved upon Kelsey's arrival.  In recent months Kelsey also helped us maintain Margaret's hearing-aid battery changes, which were a critical aspect of her care."

Kelsey is such a role model for others and everyone in this community adores her.  It is an honor and privilege to work alongside such a wonderful co-worker.  She is a blessing to all.  She is a hero.

Nominated by: Laurie Clark, Executive Director

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Jackie Lebau, Activities Director, 80th Street Residence, New York, NY  

JackieJackie Lebau has been the Activities Director at The 80th Street Residence since 2016. 80th Street is an assisted living community entirely devoted to cognitive impairment care located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Recognizing that being a "New Yorker" is a huge part of many of our Residents' identities has always been an important consideration when scheduling programs and outings so that the Residents can continue to connect to who they once were. 

In March 2020, when New York City came to be known as the epicenter of the pandemic, Jackie went above and beyond to keep our Residents engaged in the meaningful activities that kept them connected to the city they had always loved. Even though we were on lockdown, and what had been our everyday lives became totally disrupted, Jackie quickly brainstormed solutions allowing our Residents to remain connected to the programs they loved. She worked with many of our program vendors to transform their programs into a virtual format. Residents were able to continue participating in weekly music therapy sessions, sing-a-longs, listening to live chamber music, exercising with their favorite yoga instructors, reading with their favorite students through the Sweet Readers Program and seeing their favorite museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Jackie took the virtual programs a step further and was able to include the Resident families in many of these activities.  This meant so much not only to the Residents but to their families who were unable to visit as they once did.

Jackie also used this time of social isolation to explore additional programs that could bring us "together". She found Eversound, a wireless listening device, that enhances the window visits that our Residents have with their loved ones. She arranges calendar signup for families to be able to schedule "FaceTime" or "Alexa" video chats that she orchestrates and prepares our Residents for in advance.

We all know how important socialization is for those who suffer from dementia.  Jackie clearly goes above and beyond to make this isolating time almost non-existent at 80th Street. She consistently thinks outside of the box. Jackie is a Hero - not only to our Residents but to those who work with her - as she inspires all to keep going even when everything we have ever known is now challenged.

Nominated by:  Lindsey Harbison, Assistant Executive Director

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William Fulgoni, Maintenance Department, Valley Vista Adult Home/Assisted Living Program, Highland, NY 

Bill performs all tasks to completion, adheres to, and enforces, infection control. He is extremely knowledgeable of residents and perceives their needs in advance.   They look forward to seeing him every day.  Bill is aways willing to go the extra mile with consistency and execution of all duties.  Friendly, funny, and a pleasure to work with.  A true team player in all aspects of the facility and assists in all departments.  With tremendous landscaping ability, he has transformed Valley Vista into a show place!

Nominated by: Theresa Daley, Administrator

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Teasha Wells, LPN, Plattduetsche Home Society EHP & AH, Franklin Square, NY 

TeashaUpon commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic officially shutting down our Adult Care Facility from visitation, in March 2020, our head nurse was called upon to chart a course through this storm.   Teasha Wells inspired her staff and colleagues, by thinking outside the box to solve daunting staff and resource challenges, where no prior blueprint or guide existed.  Together with Executive Chef Thomas Henrichs (Kitchen/Dining/Housekeeping & Facilities), she developed new protocols and safety measures, on the fly, to successfully protect our senior residents and our staff, to be further refined as our own “best practices”.  Teasha leveraged her relationships with medical professionals within and beyond our community, to provide us every advantage to shield residents and staff from an outbreak.  And protect us she did. Our success was confirmed by DOH on-site inspection, and subsequent DOH nursing staff testing of our resident volunteers, both at our Enriched Housing and Adult Home facilities. We continue to provide the level of service and care to our dear residents who proudly call the “Platt” their Home, due to the passion and purpose of Teasha Wells.

Nominated by: Steven Kordisch, Administrator

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Sharon Miller, Home Health Attendant, Brooklyn Boulevard ALP 

Sharon MillerSharon was a true Hero in the beginning of the COVID process. As we had residents that had or were suspected to have the virus, Sharon was a true leader in providing care for those that needed more help than usual. She took extra time with each resident and went to some that weren't even on her assignment to provide care. where some were hesitant, she only cared to help those that she dedicated herself to serve. She is was an inspiration to many.

Nominated by: Michael Kirsch, Administrator

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Ginger Bonner, Recreation Director, Amber Court of Westbury, Westbury, NY 

Ginger BonnerOne employee that has made the most remarkable impact on our Amber Court Family has been Ginger Bonner, our Recreation Director at  Amber of Westbury. Ginger has been with Amber Court for over 16 years. She literally embraced the concept of making our residents her extended family from the day she started. Prior to the pandemic Ginger was already amazing. Her unconventional ways of entertaining our residents made her a celebrity among our inner community. Upon suffering this unimaginable event that changed the lives of our residents so drastically, Ginger was the real hero that made it her mission to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as she possibly could. Throughout the entire quarantine, Ginger never skipped a beat. From in room scavenger hunts, to hall bingo, and a mobile arts and crafts cart, Ginger thought of it all. She helped families connect with their loved ones through Video-chat, she made daily post to our Facebook page to help everyone feel connected, and she even organized a staff recognition car parade in which the resident’s families drove through the parking lot of the community to show their appreciation for the staff that worked tirelessly to keep their loved ones safe. In and out of rooms, changing PPE a thousand times, and working extended hours, Ginger never stopped! She never lost her drive, her optimism, or her ability to come up with creative activities that made our residents feel entertained even in the confinement of their rooms. Ginger is well connected with organization that so kindly make donations to our residents and regularly show their support. She has accumulated over 1400+ followers on the Westbury Facebook page simply because people enjoy being engaged in her posts. She inspires people by making the best of each situation. I don’t know how to emphasize how much of a hero Ginger truly is. She will say she is just doing her job, but I will say that she is bringing peace of mind to so many families who can’t be with their loved one right now. Without Ginger we would be lost! We recognize how lucky we are to have her and feel that she truly deserves to be recognized for the hero that she is!

Nominated by: Claire Hakim and Maria Brownworth of Amber Court 

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ESAAL Honors STAND OUT STAFF, Spring 2020

The Plaza at Clover Lake Collage image of several workers in an assisted living facility

Today's STAND OUT STAFF comes from The Plaza at Clover Lake! Yohany tells us: "The Clover Lake Dietary Team is working very hard preparing & delivering meals to our residents. These employees have been working extra hours covering shifts for people that have been out sick. They have not called out & they are always there to help. We are very happy to have them here at Clover Lake & their work & great attendance is very much appreciated!!

Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF! 

Bronxwood Assisted LivingImage of a poster on a stand thanking the staff of an adult care facility for their dedication and hard work

We'd like to thank the STAND OUT STAFF from Bronxwood Assisted Living! Their residents put together this sign to thank the entire staff for taking such good care of them during the pandemic.

Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF!!


The CloistersPicture of the staff at the Cloisters wearing face masks

Here at The Cloisters, we would like to recognize ALL OF OUR STAFF as Stand Out Staff!
We are so incredibly fortunate to have such caring and dedicated staff. Everyone goes above and beyond to make sure our residents are safe and happy all the time and especially now.

Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF!


Boulevard ALP

Ann M., HHA

Ann has been an outstanding employee for 15+ years. She is loyal, self sacrificing and always ready to extend a 

helping hand - a reliable team player. During this pandemic we k

new we could count on Ann to rise to the occasion and be there for our residents!

Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF!! 



Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors, Albany, NY Daughters of Sarah

Christine C. and Kassandra H. 

Sharon R., Executive Director at The Massry wanted to thank Activities Director, Christine C. & Lead Receptionist, Kassandra H., "who have both been absolutely fantastic! They put together this group photo."
Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF!! 

Maryville Enhanced Assisted Living, Huntington, NY 


Today, we're thanking the staff at Maryville Enhanced Assisted Living!
Elias S. put it simply & said, "They are our heroes!"
Thank you for being an entire team of STAND OUT STAFF!




Regency at Glen Cove, Glen Cove, NY Chef Pat Marone

Today's STAND OUT STAFF is from The Regency at Glen Cove Assisted Living! Stella, Director of Special Projects, tells us: "The Regency's Chef Pat Marone has been cooking and making us laugh for the last 17 years. Chef Pat has been working three meals a day in order to make sure residents are happy. 'Saturday night's Pot Roast was a big hit, I even made some homemade danish to brighten their day. I have to say the residents are so appreciative and thankful during this tough time. I guess they have seen so much in their lives.', Pat shared. 'We love Chef Pat and his staff. He is always trying to make us laugh and it works', Resident Suzanne C. stated. Thank you Pat! We love you!"
Thank you for being STAND OUT STAFF, Chef Pat!!

Clark Manor House, Canadaigua, NY Deb Woodruff, Clark Manor
Today's STAND OUT STAFF is from Clark Manor House! Stacie C. says: "I would like Debbie Woodruff, RN administrator of Clark Manor House for the amazing job she does. She has been a rock through this pandemic. She is working everyday. She is open for all suggestions as to what we can do to make the residents smile. This is a picture of her on crazy clothes day. Without her strong leadership  skills we would be lost!"Thank you Debbie, for being a STAND OUT STAFF member!