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ESLC Honors Annual Special Award Winners

November 22, 2022

Each year ESLC celebrates and presents annual special employee awards, as well as the Generations Award which highlights one volunteer who excels in their volunteering role. We were excited to surprise all of this year’s winners!

Canon St. Julian Simpkins Employee of the Year: Gail Reeves, Coordinator of Resident Services & Special Events at Valley Manor
Exhibits: Dedication, Compassion, Friendliness and Respect

Gail received several nominations for this prestigious award, each containing many examples of her impact at Valley Manor. Her commitment and dedication consistently go above and beyond – she is known for her positive attitude and constant encouragement for residents to try new programs and experiences. “Gail has shown her ability to plan thoughtful, interesting and unique programs. She inspires us all to continue learning and growing,” says Jessica Turpyn, Assistant Executive Director of Valley Manor.

Gail is responsible for many partnerships and has an exceptional talent for bringing people together. As we often say, Gail knows everyone! She ensures residents, especially those who are new, are brought into the fold and feel welcomed immediately. Gail has also created connections with many organizations over the years and has a special place in her heart for intergenerational partnerships. She had been instrumental in developing innovative, mutually beneficial programs across generations, notably with Rochester City School District, Eastman School of Music and St. John Fisher University. Residents at Valley Manor are community-minded, curious, active, independent and fiercely dedicated to the arts. Gail, who became a resident herself in 2016 – seemingly effortlessly and always graciously meets the challenge of ensuring there is a program on the calendar for everyone.

Catherine Johnson Caregiver of the Year: Nijole Kucinskiene, Resident Care Assistant at Brentland Woods
Exhibits: Dedication, Loyalty, Caring to those in need

Nijole was nominated by residents and coworkers at Brentland Woods. Her professionalism, sympathetic ear, kind and quiet demeanor, and uplifting spirit make her a perfect candidate for this award. Nijole is a true professional; she is always dependable and willing to help her teammates. She is meticulous in carrying out her role, whether she is picking up an apartment, changing sheets, delivering medications or assisting with personal care, her heart is in it and it shows. She is never too busy to spend extra time with a resident or teammate who wants to chat or is having a bad day. She is a person who genuinely gives of herself for the benefit of others with
no expectation or desire for recognition – it is just her way.

Nijole is a strong leader at Brentland Woods, well respected, and loved by residents and staff. She is
interested in learning about others and listens to what is important to them. Many residents have
commented that Nijole seems to know what they need even before they do! Some words residents and
staff use to describe her are positive, encouraging, optimistic, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, selfless
and nurturing – one staff member summed it up nicely by saying simply, “She is the best!”

Austin E. Hildebrandt Award of Honor: Anthony Biuso, Activities Coordinator at River Edge Manor
Exhibits: Conviction, Humility, Inspiration and Compassion

Anthony was nominated by family members, coworkers and residents of River Edge Manor for his dedication, creativity and enthusiasm. Anthony holds a degree in Therapeutic Recreation from SUNY Brockport and uses his education and experience to create new events and activities for residents. It is important to him to meet and get to know each resident’s likes and interests so that he can plan a well-rounded social and wellness program at River Edge Manor that reflects the desires of the residents. He is remarkably talented at encouraging residents to help plan and lead programs. Recently, he inspired a resident to teach a cooking class with harvested ingredients from her patio garden at River Edge Manor. This class was a great success and has become a monthly staple – with others signed up to lead classes. Other resident-run programs include the garden club, knitting group and various game groups. Anthony is compassionate and works to conquer any barriers to residents participating in everyday life at River Edge Manor. For example, he recently researched and found a program that translates speech to a computer monitor helping a resident who is hard of hearing participate in meetings and programs without frustration. He has also made it his mission to connect with residents who are more reluctant to participate in group programs. One family member stated, “Anthony’s enthusiasm and dedication to ensure every resident feels valued has encouraged my mother-in-law to attend activities – seeing Tony is the highlight of her day!” Anthony is humble, kind, encouraging and caring – he is truly an asset to ESLC.

Loren J. Ranaletta Award of Honor: Tracy Leonard, Administrative Assistant at Brentland Woods
Exhibits: Faithfulness, Creativity, Self-confidence, Sincerity

Tracy was nominated by coworkers and residents for the Loren J. Ranaletta Award of Honor. A devoted employee at Brentland Woods for more than eight years, Tracy is an expert in her position. She is incredibly resourceful and keeps Brentland Woods on track through her outstanding organizational skills, which are instrumental in managing communications, record keeping, and ensuring policies and procedures are consistently followed and documented. Tracy is well-versed and confident in her understanding of the operations of Brentland Woods and has an unshakable, high standard for providing the best in service to residents and their families and supporting the entire team. In addition, she is a consistent cheerleader, planner of fun and the “go-to” person for almost everything at Brentland Woods!

Outside of being a fantastic administrative professional and team player, Tracy is most likely the first person anyone encounters when entering Brentland Woods and is welcoming to all. Her positive attitude, sincere spirit and warm personality resonates with residents, families and coworkers, and sets the tone for the day or visit for many. She does everything with sincerity, honesty, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and good humor! She is a well-deserving recipient of this distinguished honor, and ESLC is grateful to have Tracy as part of our dedicated workforce.


Generations Award: Barb Schrage, Volunteer at Seabury Woods
Exhibits: Dedication, Compassion, Vision, Volunteerism

Barb Schrage is the 2022 Generations Award recipient, nominated by Maureen Williams, Director of Resident Services at Seabury Woods. Barb exemplifies all the attributes of the Generations Award — her dedication, compassion and vision are admirable. Barb became a volunteer in 2015 when her mother moved into Seabury Woods. She began helping with outings and setting up events and parties, and quickly discovered she and Maureen have a shared passion for education.

Barb worked as a registered nurse for nearly 50 years through UR Medicine and Highland Hospital. She has specialized in geriatrics since 1987 and is an educator through St. John Fisher University Academy for Leadership in Long Term Care.

Barb, like Maureen, is an instructor for the Alzheimer’s Association. Together, they developed a curriculum for ESLC’s Resident Care Aide Education Program, focusing on dementia and dementia behavior. The program combines lectures, videos and role-playing scenarios that offer valuable tools for staff working with residents living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The curriculum is utilized for training throughout ESLC’s assisted living communities, and we are incredibly grateful to Barb for her professionalism and leadership.




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