At Emerge we take great pride in the spirit of mutual respect and affection that characterizes our environment. This sense of being part of an extended family inspires staff, customers, their families, employers and outside observers alike. Here we present a few short profiles of selected members of the Emerge family. As time passes we will add new family members to this page: so come back frequently to meet newly featured individuals.
Sandy Bruce is both an Emerge customer and a valued member of our Board of Directors. With us for more than 30 years, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you can find her supervising an Emerge cleaning crew at a local Maryland business. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment with another Emerge customer and enjoys bingo and going to the movies with other members of the Emerge family.
Devin Garner is a new member of our family. A 22 year old, Devin is already an important member of the Emerge lawn and landscaping crew and a committed athlete in Emerge’s informal and organized sports programs (especially basketball). Pictured with Devin is 14-year staff member Ty Tyler, Emerge’s Support Manager, who supervises the lawn and landscape crew and coaches Emerge’s basketball, football and softball teams. These teams are perennial trophy winners in the Special Olympics and at the yearly NCIR national competitions.
April Thompson (seated at center in the photo) has been an Emerge customer since 2009. April is employed by Baltimore’s Bea Gaddy Foundation, where she works preparing food for the homeless. Every week April takes public transportation to visit her sister and her sister’s 18-month old daughter. Flanking April in the picture are Quana Brannon, April’s Emerge Job Coach and a staff member in the Emerge family for 3 1/2 years. Quana guides April in her job duties and assists her in living independently in an Emerge residence. Also pictured with April and Quana is Kenneth Ennals, Emerge’s Director of Residential Services.
Christina Kunkowski (at right), for the last 11 years a customer at Emerge where, as part of her program, she is employed full-time at our headquarters. Christina lives alone in an apartment near the office. Pictured with Christina is her mom, Joyce Reth. Both Christina’s and Joyce’s association with the Emerge family began when Joyce, at the recommendation of a friend, called Emerge Executive Director David Wamsley to request that Christina, then a patient of five years standing in a state institution, be considered for admission to Emerge. Christina joined the family, and has become a familiar face around our offices. Joyce, from those first few days more than a decade ago, has been a committed supporter of the Emerge Way. Today she sits on our agency’s Board of Directors.
John Ullua, who arrived at Emerge in 2010, particularly enjoys the outings we sponsor for staff and customers. John, autistic and nonverbal, lives in a three-bedroom apartment with another customer and an Emerge staff member.
Kelli Peller (center), a customer celebrating her fifth year at Emerge, loves the atmosphere of trust and independence at Emerge. Lynnae Spence, her House Manager (at left in the photo), regularly guides her in these activities: “she treats me like she’s my other mom, ” says Kelli. In the foreground of the photo is Kenny Williams, Residential Support Manager, who is ultimately responsible for Kelli’s progress at Emerge.