Family Empowerment – A Member of our Berks County Team Receives Recognition

Letter from a Berks County CYS Case Manager:

Good Afternoon,

Hope all is well. I just wanted to let you know that I was in contact with the father (of one of our mutual clients) today because he voiced to Zach (JWYC employee) that he didn’t want the case closed. When I talked to the father he informed me how comfortable his family felt with Zach and that they noticed a changed in the older son, ‘Max’ since Zach has been working with the family. They asked me if Zach could continue working with the family for a little longer. I had to gently explain to them that although I loved that they were able to develop a great rapport with the provider I would still have to close out the case due to there being no concerns with child abuse and/or neglect. The family understood. Every now and then it is nice to hear the good things and how much of an influence you can make on a family. Even if it was a short time working with the family they obviously had a good experience, its clients like that that keeps you motivated.

Thank you for your awesome work Zach, it was nice working with you. Hopefully I can meet you one day so that I can put your face to your name.

Minerva F. Ruiz-Ocasio, MSW
Caseworker II, In-Home Services
Children and Youth Services, County of Berks
633 Court Street, 11th Floor, Reading, PA 19601

Thank you Minerva for your feedback regarding our Berks County Family Resource Specialist, Zachary Robinson. Thank you Zach for your ability to connect with families, and assisting this family in reaching their goals.

Berks County Employee Receives Recognition from Children and Youth Services

An Email from CYS Caseworker:

Good Afternoon,

I just wanted to take a second and let you know how impressed I am with Omika Johnson. I really appreciate her open communication with the agency and her regular updates regarding the ‘Smith’ case. Additionally, there has been some major turmoil in the family lately and Omika just recently started but it hasn’t scared her off. She was a terrific advocate and support for ‘Katrina’ today at our meeting and I am very glad that she is on the case. She is wonderful! Have a great day!

Ashley L. Frey, BA
County Caseworker II
Berks County Children and Youth Services

Thank you Ashley, for taking the time to recognize our Family Resource Specialist, Omika Johnson. Thank you Omika for your excellent communication and advocacy skills that are so important in successful case management. Your contributions to the JWYC Mission are appreciated.

A Berks County Juvenile Probation Officer Praises a JusticeWorks’ Employee

Hi Rebecca & Samantha,

I wanted to reach out to both of you to let you know about some fantastic work that was done by one of your Family Resource Specialists, Matt Casey.

Matt has been working with a young man that I supervise for the past few months. In the time that Matt has worked with the youth, I’ve noticed that the two have formed a great professional alliance. I believe that Matt has been a positive influence in this young man’s life and has expressed to me on several occasions that he feels comfortable talking to Matt. (more…)

Praise from Berks County Children & Youth Services!

(Letter written from Children & Youth Caseworker to JusticeWorks Director, Rebecca Bieber and Supervisor Stephenie Williams).

Good morning everyone-

I wanted to take a quick minute to touch base with you regarding the “Crockett” family. I just received another phone call from paternal grandmother, gushing about her experience with Sam Gerdeman. She is so pleased with the assistance that Sam has provided on the case, including securing Welfare/ WIC benefits for the child, arranging for father to attend an Intake at the Caron Foundation to address his substance abuse issues, offering hands-on parenting to both father and paternal grandmother while in the home, and most importantly, advocating for father in regards to ensuring that appropriate services are in place due to father requiring an interpreter to access services. We have been involved with the family for several months, and paternal grandmother feels as though Sam has made an incredible amount of progress during casework sessions in the short period of time that she has been working with the family. We don’t always hear when we make a positive impact on the families that we work with, so I thought it was worth it to let you know how much the family appreciates Sam’s efforts.

Have a great day!


Jennifer Hoffa
Berks County Children & Youth Services

Thank You Samantha for providing the JusticeWorks quality of care that our Counties are familiar with. This letter is exactly what our “Whatever It Takes” philosophy is about! We are proud to hear that the “Crockett” family is making progress on their road to stability. We wish them the best! Jen, we appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to provide positive feedback and celebrate the quality service provided.

JusticeWorks Celebrates 15 years of Continuous Success!

On August 16, 2014, President and CEO, Dan Heit invited all staff and their families from Pennsylvania and South Carolina to help celebrate JusticeWorks’ 15 year anniversary at Hershey Park. More than 300 people attended! Dan thanked our expert staff for doing whatever it takes to help our families, youth, and communities. After a delicious lunch, everyone stayed to enjoy the rides at the amusement park.

JusticeWorks Celebrates 15 years of Continuous Success!

Enjoying their day at Hershey Park is staff Amanda Olving-Chapman (pictured right), with her mother and children.

JusticeWorks Celebrates 15 years of Continuous Success!

Daniel Heit, President/CEO giving a speech to JusticeWorks’ employees

JWYC staff appreciates Dan’s generosity and his leadership which has led to our success at helping youth and families and to the organization’s continuous growth. Regional Directors Marc Maddy and Renee Kresge presented Dan with a commemorative plaque.

We proudly displayed commendations received from some of our clients and stakeholders and have reprinted a couple below. We thank Berks County JPO and Lehigh County CYS for their enlightened partnership… it enhances our ability to achieve positive outcomes. (more…)

Making a Difference in Berks County

A great big thank you to our Berks County Family Resource Specialist, Cathie Peters. Cathie received this heartfelt thank you letter from a family she served. The *Marshall family wanted to recognize the positive changes that have occurred in their lives with the support of Cathie. Cathie’s hard work and dedication has made an impact on the community she serves. JusticeWorks would also like to thank the *Marshall family for taking the time to recognize Cathie’s “Whatever it takes” efforts to support their family. (more…)

A Note of Appreciation from a Berks County Family to their Family Resource Specialist

Thank you, Nicole & Kay for sending such a heartfelt card/note. (See below) Often times we forget to celebrate the unsung heroes in our lives.  Andrea, your kindness, dedication and “Whatever It Takes” personality is a valuable asset to this agency.  Thank you!

jwycblog1 jwycblog2 jwycblog3

Double Down on Service Excellence in Berks County!!

  1. I wanted to take a moment to recognize the work of Samantha Brehm.  Ms. Brehm has been working with a family for some time and the father was recently released from jail.  Ms. Brehm was able to increase the amount of time she spent with the family to assist the father in obtaining a job.  The father has a great deal of difficulty reading and completing job applications so Ms. Brehm spent much of her time helping complete the applications.  Ms. Brehm’s hard work paid off and the father got a job!  The only problem was that the father had to start the job the next day and needed a pair of new work boots in order to start but the family had no money.  Within hours, Ms. Brehm was able to secure the funds for the work boots and purchased the work boots for father so that he could start work the next day.  Ms. Brehm went above and beyond with this family and her work is greatly appreciated!
  2. I need to take a moment to commend Stephanie Kerns on providing an excellent example of how to handle situations when abuse is reported as it was on recently.  Once the abuse was reported Steph immediately called me and then my supervisor after I was not available.  Steph took photos of the injury and called the father to come pick up the children.  Steph did all of this while remaining at the home and with the children to ensure their safety.  This is not always the case because some providers actually leave the home and then call in the abuse report.  Steph also stuck around after the children left to inform a hostile mother of what was going one.  Steph remained calm, focused and professional throughout this crisis and again, provides an excellent example of what all providers should do in cases where abuse is reported.


Gregory J. Gerdeman, MSW, LSW

Berks County Children and Youth Services

We appreciate Greg,  our dedicated working partner at Berks County CYS for taking the time to point out the excellent service and ‘grace under pressure’ evidenced by our superb Family Resource Specialists, Samantha Brehm and Stephanie Kerns.  We appreciate them too!!

Berks Staff Win Blue Ribbons!

We are very proud of our Berks County staff, Lisa Bernard, Juan Cortes-Carren, and Cathie Peters, who were each awarded a Blue Ribbon from Berks County Office of Children & Youth services for their exceptional commitment, dedication and positive outcomes with children and families.

We salute them for this meaningful achievement and for exemplifying JusticeWorks’ whatever it takes philosophy.  Congratulations! (more…)

A Berks’ Mom Cites Our Staff

On Feb. 17th we had a Family Group Decision Making Conference for our client
Shahnaz Harris. I thought I would share what mom said about her relationship
with Sean.  I still wanted you all to know he should be proud of what
difference he makes one person at a time.

Facilitator- “How is your relationship with your provider Sean?”

Mom- “He is the coolest worker I have ever known, he doesn’t judge me,
assume anything negative on me, he makes me feel comfortable, I mean he
would even sits Indian style on the floor with me, which says a lot, him
being comfortable makes me feel comfortable and I work better like that. He
is not uptight and doesn’t use words I don’t know. He makes me feel so
comfortable that he makes me want to be motivated, and when I have a good
relationship with someone I want to be motivated. I even try avoiding him
sometimes and I can’t duck him for nothing, he will be outside waiting
because he knows I am inside, and…I like that because I know he is not
giving up on me.”

I thought this would be a reminder of why we do what we do. We don’t realize
how much we affect someone until moments like these. All though there are
those clients we stress over so much it’s the little successes like these
that remind us the power of empowering our clients..

Have a Happy Friday!!!!
Thank You,
Minerva F. Ruiz, MSW  🙂

We thank Berks County Caseworker Ruiz for taking the time to write and
remind us of what’s really important.  And, our appreciation goes to our
Family Resource Specialist Sean Haggerty.   We think he’s pretty cool, too!

Appreciation From A Berks Probation Officer!

Hi Marc,

I wanted to email you this morning to let you know about some outstanding work that Frank Maurer has done for one of my clients.  I’m supervising a juvenile named Bobby Jones.   Frank took over the case a few months ago.

Since Frank has been working with Bobby, he has gone above and beyond what’s expected of him.  Bobby’s mother is very difficult to engage and terribly unreliable.  Frank went out of his way on several occasions to make sure that Bobby’s mother was involved in his probation plan and taking care of her obligations.

Frank also worked very diligently with Bobby in helping him secure his birth certificate and social security card, so he could begin to search for employment.  Frank also woke Bobby out of bed several times to get him to school when he was attending and also made sure that he got to his appointments with me, which he otherwise would have missed and been violated for, had it not been for Frank.

In times where we often receive lackluster services from providers, it’s so refreshing to see someone like Frank tackle his job with such tenacity; he truly is an asset to your agency.

Please recognize Frank for a job well done and let him know that I look forward to working with him again in the future.


Travis Johnson
Berks County School-Based Juvenile Probation Officer

We just learned that Bobby has paid off his restitution and has been released from court supervision.  We thank Frank Maurer, our dedicated Family Resource Specialist, for going above and beyond (in other words: JusticeWorks’ normal!).  And, thank you Probation Officer Travis Johnson for taking the time to point out something going right!

Another Remarkable Outcome in Berks County!

Our thanks to our Berks CYS case partner Greg Gerdeman for taking the time to acknowledge our hard work. And, to our exemplary family resource Specialist Noelle Hartzman for persisting until there was a good outcome for the family.

I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the work of Noelle with the Thompson family. I know she has put in a great deal of time with the family and today that has paid off with her getting what amounts to over $4,000 in rental assistance for the family and preventing them from being evicted. I truly do appreciate the amazing work that Noelle and Justiceworks does for our families and just thought you should know yet another example of this!


Gregory J. Gerdeman, MSW, LSW
Berks County Children and Youth Services

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