James H. & Barbara H. Schliff Award: Colleen Verhayden

I am Liberty Story: James H. and Barbara H. Schliff Award Winner Colleen Verhayden. Headshot of Colleen Verhayden.
This year Liberty ARC is pleased to introduce another employee recognition award, the James H. and Barbara H. Schliff Award, which was presented to Senior Hab Coordinator Colleen Verhayden. 
James and Barbara Schliff were active volunteers with Schenectady ARC for many years. They were strong advocates for both people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the employees who supported them. In 1995, the James H. and Barbara H. Schliff Award was established out of recognition of their devotion and service to the agency. This annual award is presented to an employee who demonstrates outstanding service to the people we support.
“This is a great honor and I want to thank my supervisors that I have had along the way that have supported me and allowed me to grow,” Colleen said. “I would also like to thank the teams that have worked with me on a daily basis to implement the plans that I have developed in order fulfill the goals of the people we support.”
Colleen has been with the agency for 29 years, starting right out of college as a relief staff in the Residential Program. There she stayed for nine years, while also working at the Scotia-Glenville School District.
“I applied for the job with Schenectady ARC just out of college when I was looking for a part time job that was flexible and allowed me to work around my schedule for school,” Colleen said. “I never thought that this was going to be a job that I was going to keep long term, but I did and it was the best decision every.”
In 2004, Colleen began working at the agency’s Maple Ridge Day Program as a program coordinator and in 2005 moved to the brand-new Life Prep program. Over the years, she moved up to Senior Program Coordinator in 2006, opening Life Prep 2 in 2007, and to Community Site Director in 2019. Then in 2020, Colleen took a Residential Director position, and made her way back to Maple Ridge in 2022 to her current job for Life Prep 2.
In her position, Colleen oversees a team and the people they support to develop individual plans best suited for each person in the day program and ensures goal are being worked on and met through the various activities offered.
“I love the connections that I have with the people and families that I support,” Colleen said. “Having been with the same programs for much of my career here, I have worked with the same families for many years and know the people well. This helps with finding their strengths, with problem solving, and developing the best suited plans for the people. I have been able to see so many of them grow and be successful and move on to other things like work and living on their own.”
Colleen has a very fond memory of when she was in a life prep meeting with a gentleman ready to age out of high school, who was very shy, but with proper supports in place he came out of his shell and blossomed.
“He sat through his meeting with a team of people and barely said a word,” Colleen said. “It was great getting to work with him and teach him the skills that he needed to be more independent in his home and community. The person is now working full-time and lives on his own.”

Click HERE to discover what job opportunities await at Liberty ARC!


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