Recently, the Venture Together Executive Team began their annual “listening tour,” making visits to all of the agency’s Residential and Day Program sites to meet with staff in order to provide updates on important agency issues, and listening to their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
Our Executive Team members have divided up the agency’s nearly 40 sites with plans to visit each throughout the months of August and September. The Executive Team looks forward to this yearly tradition, where they can meet with many of Venture’s 500+ staff and spend time at the programs.
CFO/CAO Celia Solomita visited Hallett House at the end of August and sat down with Site Director Lionel Sylvestre and a group of the residence’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). She began by outlining some of the big changes within the agency, including:
- Switched to a new health insurance carrier, with no increase in premium payments to staff. The new plan includes a $250 Health Reimbursement Account to cover eligible out of pocket expenses.
- Increased Continuing Education/Tuition Reimbursement Program, to $1,000.
- Reduced the number of years for staff longevity increases from every five years to every three years.
- Juneteenth was added as a paid floating holiday.
- A 5.4% cost of living adjustment was approved in the 2022/2023 New York State budget. Although OPWDD has not yet released these funds, Venture Together distributed most of the anticipated payment to increase all staff salaries by $1.50 per hour.
- Increased the starting salary for DSPs to $15.00 per hour.
Celia also updated the staff on some ongoing initiatives, including the sale of the Venture Center Day Habilitation building in Sparkill and the plans for relocating the programs housed there. She also provided and update on the implementation of Time & Attendance and Electronic Health Records systems throughout the agency.
The Hallett House staff was enthusiastic and engaged, showing excitement about the many changes, and pleased with the direction Venture Together is heading. DSP Yves Pauyo thanked Celia on behalf of her co-workers, adding, “You listened to us last year, and things got better.”
Celia finished her visit with a sincere message to the staff: “You guys are the heart and soul of Venture Together. There’s never a time that I’m sitting in my office that I don’t realize there’s a world of activity called Venture Together, with you here assisting and supporting the people in our care. Everything begins with what you do every day, we never forget that, and we thank you.”