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Now that our organization’s merger process has been finalized and the former ALG programs are now officially part of Wildwood, it is a good time to reflect on where we've been, where we are, and where we're going, in terms of our supports, services, and programs. Our number one goal was to travel this process while still providing the very best supports and services and with no negative impact to the people we support.
I am happy to report that we were successful in making sure that there was no interruption of supports during the process. Another goal was to bring together two teams to form a new cohesive workforce that could grow and excel together in carrying out our mission. We spent a great deal of time meeting, listening, and planning to make sure the process formed and solidified a new entity and we will continue in this effort as things evolve. There is no question we have more comprehensive supports, more overall diversity, and greater capacity with our larger workforce.
It has been a dynamic process rather than a project with a distinct start and end point. We have brought new residences, new departments, and new talented professionals into the Wildwood fold and it has been energizing. Some organizational changes have been created to accommodate our larger size and workforce. Two new divisions have been created in an effort to reorganize our structure for optimal efficiency. Residential Supports and Day Services and the Community Services divisions have been created to better manage and support their departments. These two divisions will continue their great work with a streamlined organizational structure that simplifies their management and their oversight.
In the last two-plus months we have seen the Wildwood Community’s strength and excitement and an unwavering dedication to our mission. It is a very exciting time for Wildwood and the synergy that is occurring is very real.
I look forward to all the possibilities it can create.
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Greetings from the Wildwood Foundation!
Tis the busy season in the Foundation and the recent merger has brought both new beginnings and even some reunions with past Wildwood families. As we welcome many new ALG families, staff, and board members to the newly expanded Wildwood, we are excited about what the future holds.
Stronger together with a greater, collective voice, increased diverse footprint, and renewed energy, we can better address the many industry challenges that surround us. We look forward to exploring new funding opportunities equipped with an enhanced case for support and richer experiences to share.
We are coming off a successful fall event season with the Walk for Wildwood raising almost $65,000 for our programs followed by a fun-filled Trivia-Night with 150 people that included many new ALG friends and community attendees.
Looking ahead to the new year, we are excited to welcome many new faces at our upcoming events and Foundation happenings. Please Save-the-date for April 21st as we enthusiastically come back together and reinvent our tried & true Spring Gala at Loft 433 in Troy. The Collaborative Art Showcase will also return later in May at the Albany Barn.
There is so much to be thankful for & so much promise ahead as we continue to be inspired by our giving community of countless families and friends.
Wishing you all joy and good health this holiday season!
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Self-Direction is a fully encompassing person-centered planning program that puts the individual and their family in the driver's seat of service delivery. Self-Direction allows an individual of any age to direct their own supports and services. The individual with the support of their Circle of Support, which includes a staff person called a Broker assists the individual and their loved ones in developing and navigating service options to create and maintain a budget to support the individual’s goals and needs based on a detailed person centered plan.
An individual has the ability to self-hire staff under programs of Community Habilitation, Respite and/or SEMP services. Individual’s also have the ability to allocate funds towards developing personal goals and interests, which may include, but are not limited to taking classes or becoming a member of a local group. Adults who are looking to live on their own may also be eligible for a housing subsidy and may use their budget to assist in covering some costs of living on their own.
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The merger brought with it many challenges for the human resources department. Many of those challenges we're very task-oriented and were centered around things like payroll, benefits, and job titles. All of those things are very important, of course, but the real challenge has been the effort to really bring the focus of Human Resources on the “human” part of human resourcess. By that, I mean things like team-building, increasing comfort levels and, overall, the formation of a new and enhanced organizational culture. Creating and maintaining a positive culture is a tall order and it will be a continual effort as it has always been at Wildwood. We will continue to make our culture a top priority and we will keep our focus on making Wildwood an outstanding place to work.
One of the most essential and important parts of the merger from a human resources standpoint was making sure that every person maintained a position. I'm very proud of the fact that during this transition no positions were eliminated and no one lost their job or moved on unless they chose to.
One of the things we needed to address was job titles and positions. We found out that our two organizations sometimes referred to a position in the same way but those positions had different duties, responsibilities and reporting. In those cases, we needed to make some changes, coach staff and make sure that everyone was on the same page.
The bringing together two organizations created new opportunities in some cases for staff to do something new like try a new position, work in a new location or with a different schedule. Wildwood’s increase in workforce has created chances for people to have new experiences and that has been a real benefit.
For some people the merger has meant an immediate pay raise because of our experience-based pay scale. Some staff joining Wildwood had experience that entitled them to a pay raise and, as you might guess, that has been very exciting.
Our larger human resources department is now able to respond to requests and needs in a faster way because we have a larger team. That means requests for training, group activities and problem solving can be met quicker and more efficiently.
It is also exciting that our new staff have a whole new list of benefits that they can access. Our Employee Assistance Program, tuition reimbursement and the Wildwood Cupboard are some of the the benefits new to many staff.
It is an exciting time at Wildwood. It is a great opportunity to build an even more cohesive, person-centered and focused culture that can meet the needs of the people we support. I am looking forward to the challenges and exciting opportunities ahead.
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Joining together two organizations brings with it many challenges. Like the rest of the organization, our primary focus was to ensure that there would be no interruption of our supports and services. In departments that do direct support, you can witness this process but in our department, so much of our efforts are behind the scenes and can be easily overlooked.
It was, of course, essential to make sure that the payroll systems were brought together so that our dedicated staff could receive their hard-earned wages.That involved changing systems, setting up accounts, writing code, and keeping everything in order. It was a fast and furious time and, in many ways, still is, but I'm very proud of the work that was done and the successful outcome from all our efforts.
In addition to the payroll project, we are coordinating Medicaid billing, merging banks, consolidating pension plans, and establishing a consistent documentation system. The devil is in the details, as they say, and we are going about all of this with painstaking deliberation to insure consistency, minimizing error, and to streamline processes wherever we can.
Our IT department has been tasked with on boarding the ALG computer infrastructure, email programs, and digital systems. ALG also utilized a contracted service to oversee their platforms so integrating all of that was a heavy lift for our technology department. Consolidating websites, social media accounts, and integrating their infrastructure havs been and, continue to be, a challenge we have been ready for.
The hard-working Facilities Department has taken on everything that goes along with acquiring new residences, offices and workspaces. The department has strategically approached the work by designing systems to cover what has become a much larger organization. I'm very proud of the work they've done.
All-in-all, with a lot of hard work from our dedicated staff, the merger has come together with only the expected challenges. It is an ongoing process and I am happy to report that we are pleased with how everything has come together.