Community Support Services presents honors at annual meeting
AKRON — During Community Support Services’ (CSS) Annual Meeting held April 24, the agency celebrated many in the community who have helped to support its mission.
CSS presented the Employer of the Year honor to The House of the Lord. Brian Crowe, employment services supervisor, in his introduction of the Employer of the Year, said, “The House of the Lord has assisted clients to gain and develop the necessary employment skills in preparation for the work force.” The agency added that CSS is grateful for The House of the Lord’s cooperation and collaboration to support employment opportunities for persons living with severe and persistent mental illnesses.
CSS also recognized Testa Cos. for its continuing support of homeless individuals and persons living with severe and persistent mental illnesses. Joel Testa, chief operating officer of Testa Cos., has a clear passion for innovation and pushing things to the next level, according to CSS officials. During this past winter, Testa arrived at the agency with a truck packed with donations of sleeping bags, tarps, warm clothing, hand warmers and other essential items for homeless persons. Testa also has developed the Formerly Homeless Foundation, which is a vehicle to help persons who are homeless and to change the perception of homelessness. Testa Cos. also is part of a current development of the Commons at Madaline Park, a supportive housing program scheduled to open in early summer.
Keith Stahl, director of residential services, remarked, “Through the efforts of Joel and Testa Cos., Akron will be experiencing a 20 percent reduction of persons considered to be chronically homeless.” In Testa’s acceptance of the award, he offered his appreciation to the staff of the agency for the work they do for the community. He also stated, “I believe I have found my calling, a little later in life than I wish, but I have found it.”
In addition, CSS recognized G. Tom Mann, DVM, with the Akron-Peninsula Veterinary Office, as the donor of the year. In the past five years, Mann has averaged approximately $20,000 per year of donated veterinary services for animals of CSS clients. According to CSS officials, clients benefit greatly from being pet owners; however, the cost for preventive veterinary care can be a barrier. Through Mann’s donation of veterinary services, it has been possible for many clients of the organization to have a cat or dog.
CSS also recognized the Akron Police Department/Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Program with the Community Services Award for 2014. For more than 10 years, CSS and the Akron Police Department have collaborated to conduct CIT in Akron. Ragan Leff, CIT/engagement supervisor, said, “This coordinated response team of mental health professionals and CIT-trained officers provides the most effective and compassionate response for persons experiencing a mental health crisis. This intervention is focused on treatment rather than incarceration.”
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