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YSS Names 2022 Core Value Award Winners

On Sept. 12, YSS celebrated its employees at the annual summer all-staff meeting. Held at Reiman Gardens in Ames, the event brought together the entire YSS team from across the state for lunch, agency updates, and fun activities.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of YSS’s Core Value Awards. Earlier this year, staff were invited to nominate their colleagues for six awards; the finalists were then selected by previous year’s winners. The award winners are chosen for demonstrating YSS’s core values in their everyday work.

Congratulations to the 2022 Core Value Award winners:

Commitment – Sam Fox, Lighthouse Youth Specialist

Said her nominator: “Sam has been with YSS for 10 years and recently had to move our Transitional Living Program apartments for the second time in six years. This is no easy feat. Sam continually sought out partnerships with property owners to find apartments that were safe, affordable, met program standards, and accessible to nearby services for clients. In addition, she connected with a moving company, coordinated the utility hookups, and handled the leases. This was done with her unwavering commitment to the housing program that she is very proud to manage.”

Collaboration – Melissa Gravlin, Residential Admissions Coordinator

Said her nominator: “As our Residential Admissions Coordinator, Melissa makes connections and works well with the YSS team as well as outside agencies, clients, and families. She does a great job engaging with the necessary individuals to work through residential referrals, and she prepares families for what to expect. Beyond her role in admissions, Melissa is on-call, picks up open shifts, coaches and supports staff, and counsels the youth. She is open to ways we can improve our systems and is helpful in marketing the program. Melissa is beyond valued by the entire team!”

Compassion – Feleecia Watkins, Mentoring Program Director

Said her nominator: “Feleecia is not only one of the kindest and most empathetic people that I have worked with, but she offers a supportive and non-judgmental approach in the way she leads. Feleecia has built a healthy, positive team culture that values learning from each other and respecting one another. She is also intentional in making sure the Mentoring program allows participants and volunteers a safe place of inclusion and respect. As a leading member of the YSS DEI Committee, Feleecia works to improve the workplace for YSS and our communities. Feleecia’s compassionate spirit inspires me daily, and I’m grateful to be part of the Mentoring team to see it in action.”

Innovation – Hope Metheny, Transitional Housing Program Directo

Said her nominator: “Hope has done an amazing job combining our Transitional Housing programs in Des Moines into one physical location. She led the team in moving staff from the Buchanan facility to the Des Moines Lighthouse facility, a creative idea that will help reduce our agency’s facility footprint. Hope is always looking at how she can improve within the Transitional Housing programs at YSS, and she is well-deserving of recognition around her innovative solutions at YSS.”

Integrity – Sheila Paul, Aftercare Self-Sufficiency Advocate

Said her nominator: “Sheila quietly does an excellent job in making sure each person she assists in the Iowa Aftercare Services Network (IASN) has fair and equitable treatment. For the past three months, she has not only covered her own cases in Jasper, Poweshiek, Marshall, and Tama counties, but she also covered Johnson and Iowa counties for staff out on maternity leave. She went out of her way to make sure her temporary cases received the same contact, concern, and support as those on her regular caseload. Thanks to her ethical responsibilities and high expectations of herself, Sheila maintained the level of trust and security that our young people expect and deserve.”

“Can-Do” Spirit – Erin Thorpe, Tenant Based Rental Assistance Youth Advocate

Said his nominator: “Erin is a great person to look up to and to go to for questions. He is usually the first in the office in the morning. I feel comfortable asking him questions, as he almost always has an answer or idea and makes sure to get back to me. He fills me in on past clients and knows their behaviors, needs, and history. Erin is readily available for clients as well and responds quickly, whether through email or phone calls. I admire his can-do spirit!”

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