NJPRA to recognize two SERV Team Members at Fall Conference

New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (NJPRA) will recognize Rachel Mathis and Yulisa Aquino at the association’s 40th Fall Conference, Resilience Through Reinvention, later this month. This honor is a testament to their devotion to the consumers and SERV’s mission-driven work.  

Rachel Mathis serves as Senior Residential Counselor at the Brookhaven group home, where she works directly with individuals with a wide range of levels of independence and varying degrees of insight into recovery. She joined the SERV Team in 2002.

When asked why she nominated Mathis, Kelly Rufe, Director of SERV Centers of NJ—Mercer County, said, “Rachel goes above and beyond each day to build on the strengths and capabilities of the consumers. She not only supervises the staff at the group home, but she also makes it a priority that every resident feels as if she is a part of a family. Rachel has worked with these residents for years to ensure that they are well taken care of and that the home in which they reside is comfortable, warm, and inviting.” 

Rufe also mentioned Mathis’ positive outlook and the way she communicates with consumers. “Rachel speaks with the consumers in a way that ensures them that she cares, is reliable, and can openly communicate without feeling judged. The consumers that work with Rachel on a daily basis are motivated to attain recovery goals,” she said. “She prioritizes the needs of those she works with, which is evident through her positive outlook and willingness to help everyone and willingness to learn new interventions.” 

In addition to her duties as a Senior Residential Counselor, Mathis works with consumers to promote health and wellness. According to Rufe, she personally accompanies all residents in the group home to medical appointments, sits in with them, and debriefs them after. She also works closely with the residential nurse to communicate medication changes and educate consumers on new medications. 

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Mathis’ devotion to the health and safety of consumers has never wavered. Since March, she has been educating consumers on hygiene and social distancing, while maintaining a positive environment in Brookhaven. 

“She meets with each resident on a daily basis to instill hope, make sure needs are being met, and that they can still work towards achieving goals with changes being put in place due to COVID-19,” Rufe said.  

Like Mathis, Senior Residential Counselor Yulisa Aquino has earned praise for her compassion and selflessness in the face of the pandemic. She has also gone above and beyond the scope of her position to help maintain an upbeat environment for consumers and staff at the Harvey group home, according to Paul Dougherty, Director of SERV Centers of NJ—Union County. 

“During the peak of pandemic, Yulisa would call different supervisors to provide them with a joke of the day to help lighten the day and boost morale,” Dougherty said. “Though Yulisa has only been with us a short time, she has gone above and beyond to complete tasks not yet assigned to her, and she has become an asset not only to the residents of Union County, but also to the staff.”

Dougherty also recognized Aquino’s work with consumers, noting that she has helped many see past their physical ailments, showing them that they can live fulfilling and productive lives.  

“There was one individual in particular that she helped empower to become more independent," he said. "She has helped this resident realize that he is physically capable to make it to different places in the community on his own. And now, with staff’s encouragement, he does go out on his own and shows more confidence in himself.”