Congratulations to Benco’s Program Coordinator of the Year for 2021
JOHN SHARP of 17th Street
When our PC of the year first began with Benco, they stated that they were looking for a job in which they could make a difference. In the just over 2 years that John has been in the PC role at our 17th Street program, he has done just that! Although he was new to working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, John was able to transfer over his skills from many years in the mental health field in a thoughtful and impactful way that continues to help transform the lives of the individuals supported and staff served.
During his time as PC, John has devoted countless hours to developing his staff. He doesn’t just have a listening ear; he really seeks to give them constructive feedback and help each member of his team challenge themselves to grow into the best version of themselves as caregivers. While continuously faced with staffing challenges, he remains flexible and creative to ensure program needs are met and always tries to balance out with reducing staff burnout. He shows up to check in and check on things on an ongoing basis to ensure staff feel comfortable with the tasks on their plate, regardless of day or time. He can always be found on the floor, whether it is clearing up lunch, pitching in with morning chores, or tackling tasks to get the covering staff out the door sooner. Staff know that he won’t just talk the talk, he will walk the walk and be there whenever needed.
There is no greater example of how John showed up for staff and residents alike than throughout the past year, when a resident at 17th began a health decline. John made every effort to get answers on the individual’s diagnosis, which was not easy when presented with both a pandemic and the individual’s reluctance to participate in medical care. John was so creative and caring in working with the individual and their medical providers to ensure all diagnostics occurred. Once the individual moved onto hospice care, John worked tirelessly to understand the changes happening and to help staff adapt to those changes. Protocols and practices sometimes were updated week after week after week, always with clear communication to staff on what they were updating and why it was in the individual’s best interest, based on their evolving condition. He guided staff through the behavioral and medical adjustments that were required for the individual’s best care, which meant modeling and training staff on significant asks of their physical and mental strength.
In the weeks surrounding that individual’s finale decline, John made a point to set aside extra time to spend one-on-one with the individual, reading, listening to music, and talking. He advocated strongly for medical pieces to help the individual be comfortable and pain-free. He helped prepare staff mentally and physically for the process of dying, though he was new to the experience himself. He also was considerate of the other residents in the home and helped explain what was going on and give them extra one-on-one time, set up calls and visits with their family members, and schedule special outings so that each resident felt supported as well.
Through the end and afterwards, he was positive and present and supported each member of the team so that the process felt true to the individual; dignified; person-centered; and honorable. The staff at 17th have described the process as life-changing to be part of. Without John’s presence and leadership, this would not have been possible. Whether he is going “Jersey John” to ensure that an individual’s rights are advocated for or doing his best to keep a “Pollyanna” mindset during a challenging time, John has demonstrated he will show up in whatever way is needed to best serve the needs of the residents and staff. We are beyond appreciative of John’s efforts and thus recognize him as PC of the Year!