Who We Are banner graphic

For Immediate Release

S.T.A.R. Awards Encourage Motivation

Adults with Mental Illness Awarded for Accomplishments

Raleigh, NC, March 26, 2018

Every quarter, the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program offices of Easterseals UCP in Wake, Durham, Johnston and Cumberland counties recognize the people they serve who have worked towards successful outcomes.

StarThe staff created the S.T.A.R. Awards (S.T.A.R. stands for Skill, Talent, Achievement and Recognition) recognized several individuals who have gotten hired and have maintained employment using the skills they learned through the Individual Placement and Support Program at Easterseals UCP.

”Coming to work every day is a pleasure when you have the opportunity to work towards mutual goals with others, especially when the outcomes achieved are making a positive difference in our lives and within the community which we live. The S.T.A.R. Awards provide a moment to reflect on the individual efforts of people allowing us to be part of the success they’re seeking,” said Josh Allender, Employment Specialist at the Individual Placement and Support program.

The Individual Placement and Support program is a model of supported employment for people with serious mental illness. IPS supported employment helps people living with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing. 

The S.T.A.R. Awards go to:

Willie Saunders, age 50 - Willie works as a custodian for Easterseals UCP.  He’s a true role model who inspires others to never give up and to remain strong when attempting to conquer obstacles that life may throw out. He is resilient, steadfast, self-motivated and hard working. He has been on his job for almost 6 months and has recently acquired his very own transportation.

Jean Clavette, age 26 - Jean is a shining star with perseverance. He makes it easy to recognize that hard work pays off. It’s also easy to be inspired by his hard work. Jean is in college working towards his dream of becoming a game developer and it only takes a few minutes talking with him about his passion to realize that this will become a reality.

Megaraj Kumar, age 25- Megaraj seems to always has a smile on his face and has something nice to say. He is writing his second book in the genre of science fiction. Megaraj is in college doing very well learning, growing, and enjoying the process of becoming the best person he can be. At his job at Harris Teeter, he is happy and accomplished.

Joan Gares, age 43- Joan’s ability to keep on trying despite many difficulties, was why she was nominated. Joan had worked really hard to obtain employment for a year or more when she first met her Peer Support Specialist. Once she got her job at PDQ things took off for her and she has had a couple raises and is training to learn many different tasks. Joan also hopes to get into management someday. 

Mike Gares, age 50- Mike stated that everyone had given up on him a long time ago except IPS and he has become a productive member of society and is able to take care of his family.  Mike has been successfully working at PDQ for a year now.

Derrick Grimes, age 42- Derrick stated that he has never won anything before and that he was honored that he had been chosen to be one of our S.T.A.R. players. He was proud that he could give a little back by representing the IPS program.  Derrick worked as a deejay at the TGI Friday’s and currently interns at a local radio station.

Raymond Jones, age 19- Raymond has been working at The Pit for over 4 months. Raymond also held employment at Carolina Ale House for 3 months during his tenure at The Pit. He engages in services consistently and has worked hard to complete his employment goals.

Lewis Marche - Lewis made big strides recently as he moved into his new apartment.  He has been working well at Walmart and is looking for a second job.

The Individual Placement and Support program is a model of supported employment for people with serious mental illness. IPS supported employment helps people living with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing.

Congratulations to the S.T.A.R. winners and the hard working staff at the Individual Placement and Support program at Easterseals UCP. 


Easterseals UCP works side-by-side with adults and children who are managing disabilities and mental health challenges. We serve as a nurse, a therapist, a social worker, a job counselor, a teacher, a psychologist, a caregiver and a compassionate friend all rolled into one. Our purpose is to help neighbors in need achieve better days and live their best possible life.

Learn more about Easterseals UCP at www.eastersealsucp.com

For more information contact:
Kathy Edgerton
Easterseals UCP Chief Communications Officer
(O) 919-865-8660
(C) 919-208-0621
Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software