Two Staff Members Honored for Service

SIMHS congratulates Mary Walsh, Supervisor of our Human Resources Department, and Gerri Matthews, Director of the Chait Mental Health Clinic, who were honored with 2017 Community Service Awards by the Staten Island Not-for-Profit Association.

At a ceremony on November 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Mary and Gerri shared honors with 22 other individuals from 16 charitable organizations, who were recognized for working above and beyond their official duties to serve their communities.

Mary Walsh

Mary Walsh

The world has changed during the 43 years that Mary has worked for the Society. Hired as a receptionist in 1974, she jumped to positions in research, office management, administration, and policy making, expanding her knowledge, skills, and responsibilities, and building a job into a career that led to her promotion to Human Resources supervisor in 2006.

But while times have changed, Ms. Walsh’s hallmark – her personal, caring touch – endures. She’s admired and depended upon throughout the agency for the so-often-needed extra personal support she extends to colleagues and clients.

As Human Resources chief, Ms. Walsh supervises all personnel issues, from interviewing prospective employees, to helping file their retirement papers, with 100 different interactions between.

Her duties include recruiting, maintaining and guiding the clinical, educational, and support staffs, handling sensitive issues, and imparting invaluable guidance and leadership to staff and managers. She has developed a variety of programs and services including organizing hundreds of pieces of information and sources scattered at different sites into a centralized, manageable system.

She’s the first, last and best person to see if you’ve got an insurance issue, an education question, a license requirement, if you need a historical detail, a filed-away report, a forgotten statistic. If it’s not on the tip of her tongue, on her desk or “desktop,” she’ll go out of her way to find it.

SIMHS President Fern Zagor notes that, “Human resources is the perfect role for Mary because she is one of the Society’s most precious human resources. We can count on her dedication to our mission, her pride in our achievements and her willingness to always go the extra mile She’s flexible, trustworthy, a credit to our organization. We are honored that she continues to give so much professionally and personally.”

Ms. Walsh attributes her career longevity and loyalty as a natural outgrowth of, “Working with some of the most interesting and dedicated people, whom I’ve been privileged to know, at a place where children and families suffering through difficult times can find a support system to prop them up until their challenges are met.”

Gerri Matthews

During the 40 years that Gerri has been a member of the SIMHS family (her “active” employment dates to 1985), her natural bent for her chosen profession as a social worker, combined with innate organizational skills, strength of

Gerri Matthews

character, leadership abilities and a compassionate heart, enabled her to climb “above and beyond” from her initial position as a caseworker to Director of the Chait Mental Health Center.

Twice on hiatus during her long career – when motherhood was on the front burner – Ms. Matthews put her talents into community endeavors including volunteer service, but still kept a close and enduring relationship with the Society.

Back at the workplace, Ms. Matthews’ goals reached beyond her expected duties, reflecting her mantra to protect and nurture children in diverse ways…as a counselor in the On-Site Mental Health and Summer Therapeutic Programs, a developer of in-home respite care services for developmentally disabled clients, and a leader for the rights and efficiencies of her clinical and support staffs. Recently, in preparation for the SIMHS’s merger with RUMC, she sits at the table in the complicated process to oversee the transition.

In 2000, Ms. Matthews was promoted to Director of the agency’s South Shore office, where hundreds of vulnerable, underserved children received therapeutic and support services and where she oversaw critical Project Liberty services to families directly affected by the loss of loved ones in the 9/11 attacks.

She was named Director of the Chait Clinic in 2009, where she successfully supervises a much larger and more diverse caseload, is a fixture at community gatherings, and continues to derive “deep satisfaction” from training clinicians.

Gerri credits the SIMHS with “A lifetime of professional and personal teaching moments. The learning never stops. The shorthand of trust that is conveyed to our families enables us to work as partners to create positive change for their children.”

Society President Zagor praised, “Gerri’s outstanding therapeutic and administrative skills that magnify her dedication to service beyond expectations Whatever it takes to serve children and the community, that’s what Gerri does best.”