West Bay Residential Services Celebrates Veteran Employees at ‘Longevity Luncheon’

CRANSTON, RI – West Bay Residential Services, a Warwick-based care provider for individuals with developmental disabilities, honored 26 veteran employees on Thursday, February 6th at its Longevity Luncheon. Incorporated in 1981, West Bay Residential Services is a non-profit that values the longtime loyalty of its team, now 350 members strong.

The Longevity Luncheons occur twice annually, celebrating team members who reach significant five-year milestones. The February Longevity Luncheon celebrated nine team members with 5 years of experience at West Bay, five with 10 years, nine with 15 years, and three with 25 years.

The event marked a quarter-century that Penelope “Penny” Merris, Dawn Galagarza, and Denise Cook have worked at West Bay. Ms. Cook and Ms. Galagarza are both Direct Support Staff working in residential and in-home supports, respectively while Ms. Merris is Director of Supported Employment and Day Activities. All three women have found great satisfaction in the daily opportunities they have to work directly with the individuals that West Bay supports. When asked what she enjoys most, Ms. Merris stressed her excitement for working with the people she serves. “They are a great deal of fun to work with. I enjoy seeing the way they think and creating activities they will enjoy, activities that can translate to employment.”

For Denise Cook, who started at West Bay when she was just 22, bringing joy into the lives of those she provides support to is incredibly gratifying. “The most rewarding part is seeing a smile on their faces. Whether they’re cooking, or going out into the community, or learning something new; I enjoy being able to make them happy while seeing their progress.”

Dawn Galagarza, who came to West Bay after volunteering for the Special Olympics, says that the relationships she has built with the people she works with on a daily basis are wonderful, stating “I have made lifetime friends and have had the opportunity to work closely with some of the most loving parents you ever want to meet. I think these are the reasons working at West Bay has been so rewarding all of these years.”

For her part, Sherri Sarault, West Bay’s Director of Workforce Development sees the tradition of Longevity Luncheons as an important means for the organization to spotlight its employees. “The Longevity Luncheon is West Bay’s opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to our dedicated, loyal staff. They give so much of themselves to ensure the individuals we support are participating in meaningful activities and building relationships and we want to appreciate them.” That appreciation helps ensure that qualified employees remain with West Bay in the long term.

West Bay Residential Services, Inc. provides residential, employment and day support services to more than 130 individuals with developmental disabilities.  West Bay supports individuals in making life choices, maintaining friend and family relationships and having fun while establishing their role within their community.

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