UCS recognizes staff, community partners in drive-in ceremony

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BENNINGTON — Adapting to the challenges of the coronavirus, United Counseling Service held its annual staff recognition event at Hathaway's Drive-In in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., on Monday. This year, UCS distributed 200 boxed dinners to staff and their families, who attend the recognition ceremony in a socially distanced way, and then watched "The Jungle Book" on the big screen.

"COVID-19 has brought significant challenges for UCS, and through it all, our staff has performed above and beyond expectations," Robert Thomson, UCS board president, said in a media release. "It is extremely important to recognize the achievements of these hard-working people on both an individual and group basis. The open-air venue made for a unique event where staff could be recognized and reconnect with their colleagues while following all safety protocols."

Executive Director Lorna Mattern hosted the evening's festivities from a podium on the back of a pickup truck in the middle of the drive-in parking lot, where she thanked family and friends for attending. "Tonight, we celebrate our employees, recognize community partners and honor staff's accomplishments," Mattern said. "Even in these tough times, our employees continue to deliver invaluable services. I am so grateful for their dedication."

Staff were recognized for years of service, obtaining licenses and degrees, performing with distinction, and demonstrating that they follow the agency core values. Three staff were recognized with the Dr. Peter D. Scully Award: Shannon Buck, Amie Niles and Kim Lawler-Batty. The Scully award is given annually to long-serving employees who exemplify the characteristics of Scully, a former UCS medical director, and perform their work with compassion, skill, and distinction.

UCS awarded this year's Harold C. "Archie" Warner Memorial Award to The Bank of Bennington for their support of the organization's Mentoring at UCS program. The Bank of Bennington has supported the program for more than 15 years. This year, the bank generously donated their annual Bowlathon sponsorship despite the cancellation of Mentoring at UCS's major fundraiser.

The Cleveland and Phyllis Dodge Community Service Award was presented to Jill Maynard, director of emergency room nursing at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. SVMC worked with UCS this year to create Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids (PUCK). "Jill is about action and making things better for staff and the community," Mattern said. "Working with her, we were able to create PUCK, and as a result the Emergency Department at SVMC has seen a reduction of approximately 40 percent in the utilization of the Emergency Department by children experiencing a mental health crisis. "

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