UCP’s Employee Spotlight

Samantha Bailey – Instructor Ben Holt Program

Samantha Bailey’s introduction to UCP began as a teenager in the Ben Holt program where she volunteered with her mother who worked there at that time.  As a volunteer, Samantha assisted with feeding clients, teaching lessons and taking clients on walking trips in the community.  In 2010, Samantha was hired as an Instructional Assistant in the same program.

While working for UCP, she earned a certificate as a Certified Nursing Assistant.  In 2015, she took on additional work in the SAIL and Respite departments.  In 2016, she was promoted to the Instructor position in the Ben Holt program.  As an Instructor, Samantha is responsible for planning client’s community outings and work activities. Through her tenure at UCP, Samantha has developed greater compassion.  She has learned how to find creative ways for clients to accomplish a task rather than focusing on the limitations of their disabilities.

Samantha’s artistic skills acquired at the Academy of Art University contribute greatly to her latest project – designing a sensory room.  The clients selected ocean scenery for the theme so Samantha is busy painting life under water.  The murals are also textured to replicate coral and shark skins.  Once Samantha has completed the sensory our clients will be able to run their hands along with walls and experience life under the sea.  The color blue, which is known for its calming effect, encompasses the majority of the room to assist when an individual needs time to decompress. The mural will also provide visual stimulation.

Outside of work, Samantha enjoys drawing and reading science fiction and fantasy books.  She says, “Could read the same book a hundred times and get different meanings from it.”  She also enjoys music and the emotions that it evokes.

As a member of the Ports City Roller Girls roller derby team, Samantha is known as “Yosemite Sam.”  She loves the camaraderie with her teammates and she finds the endurance drills challenging.

Samantha would love to go sky diving and wing-suit flying, travel to Finland, take dog sleds to see the Northern Lights, and visit Alaska to watch the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  Her career goal is to become a Program Manager at UCP.

UCP’s Employee Spotlight

Kenda Eskridge – Job Developer

Supported Employment Program

Kenda began working at UCP as an Administrative Assistant in May 2014.  Her recent promotion to Job Developer in September 2016 has created an explosion in job placements for the Supported Employment Department.  Her primary responsibilities involve intake of new clients, preparing them for employment opportunities, and developing partnerships with employers.  Kenda spends a significant amount of time meeting with new clients to identify their work history, interests, and any obstacles to job placement and retention (e.g. unreliable transportation).   She provides individualized training, as needed, such as using public transportation or a cash register to address grooming and hygiene.  Kenda also accompanies clients to department stores like Ross to ensure they maximize their Department of Rehabilitation stipend purchases of work clothes.  She has a keen eye for sales at the store.

On a weekly basis, Kenda conducts cold calls and goes door to door to businesses to find prospective employers.  Her motto is “Ask everybody and you will get a bite.”  Her record of accomplishments within 7 months is impressive.  Kenda has placed 28 clients throughout Tracy, Manteca, Lodi and Stockton.  Their jobs include Crew Members at Burger King, Loss Prevention at K-Mart, Sales Associates at Home Goods, Courtesy Clerks at Safeway, Fulfillment Specialist at Amazon, and Office Aide at Valley Mountain Regional Center.

Her zeal is truly infectious and her passion is evident when she speaks about her job and the clients.  She cares about each person she works with, recognizes how they can contribute their strengths in the workplace and she celebrates each successful interview and job placement.  Kenda acknowledges that the Supported Employment team is strong because they “never forget why we are here” and they empower her to do her job so well.

Outside of work, Kenda loves spending time with her children and grandparents.  Whether that is “taking care of business” (washing clothes and listening to her children share about their day), watching her son play Itty Bitty sports (soccer, t-ball, and basketball), playing music and dancing with them or going to the Exploratorium.  Her children inspire her to bring her best to each day – her commitment, motivation, and compassion.  Kenda loves to shop online and watch her favorite TV show.  She dreams of attending a Frankie Beverly and Maze concert and taking a vacation to a relaxing and peaceful forest.

30th Annual CHOICES conference

The 30th annual CHOICES conference held at San Joaquin County Office of Education was a success!

Phillip and Nick, two clients who attend Program Without Walls, setup a booth at the Micro Business Fair to sell their goods. Phillip sold jewelry, handbags and comic books and Nick sold his paintings and homemade soap.

Keynote speakers presented about living on their own, establishing micro businesses, and volunteering in the community.

The Advocates jammed during lunch provided by Panera Bread. They drew a crowd of dancers while singing oldies and country songs.

Supported Employment Client Spotlight

AJ – Courtesy Clark Safeway

Back in February 2007 our Supported Employment program worked with AJ on possible job placement.  AJ’s placement landed him working for Safeway as a Courtesy Clerk.  He easily transitioned from Courtesy Clerk to Gas Station Attendant, though he was missed by many of the older customers whom he had previously helped in the store. In September 2016, AJ was promoted to Gas Station Attendant Manager and is responsible for overseeing the night shift employees.  He continues to shine as a reliable, hardworking, and dedicated manager. Within the next 5 years, AJ’s goal is become an Assistant Manager at Safeway. 

AJ enjoys spending time with his 13-year-old daughter, Alycia, as well as hunting, fishing, playing golf, and watching football.  For his dream vacation, he would love to go on a deer hunting trip in Texas.   

The Supported Employment program works with our clients to make their dreams become reality.  Our Job Coaches collaborates with both our clients and amazing Business Partners, such as Safeway, to overcome any obstacles that may hamper job performance. Whether it’s hands on training or spot training for new responsibilities UCP is ready to jump right in and evaluate whatever is needed (if anything) to assist our clients to advance in their workplace.

Our Business Partners love the individuals placed by UCP’s Supported Employment program. They appreciate our Job Coaches efforts to assist individuals like AJ to meet the demand of their job requirements.  UCP strives to place individuals who meet or surpass the expectations of our Business Partners.

AAP – Spirit of gratitude

Full of a spirit of gratitude and love

The Applied Abilities Program staff in Tracy prepared a delicious, home cooked meal for 51 clients using the money that they had collected from recycling throughout the year.  Staff prepared various dishes at home, including turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans, and potatoes.  The smells wafted through the building as staff served the clients a hearty meal followed by an assortment of desserts.  Then, everyone gathered in Area 1, their largest classroom, for the Saran Wrap Ball game.  When the music was playing, the clients passed two large Saran Wrap Balls of goodies around the circle.  As soon as the music stopped, the person holding the Saran Wrap Ball frantically tore off as much of the Saran Wrap as possible to release a goodie trapped inside – color pencils, coffee travel mugs, erasers, candy, and puzzles!  Laughter, smiles, and excitement filled the afternoon as clients delighted in the fun and their unexpected gifts.  After the game ended, staff and clients packaged the remaining food, placed it in carryout containers, and distributed it to homeless people who were gathered near a local restaurant and at several parks throughout the city.

In Memory of Renee

In Memory of Renee

UCP celebrated the life and memory of our client, our friend, our inspiration, Rene.  She started attending program back in 2006 at our Ben Holt Adult Day Center.  Rene’s smile was infectious; you couldn’t help but smile back.  She loved to hug and handed them out generously as often as she could.

While in program she enjoyed spending time with her favorite staff, Christina, who runs our computer lab.  When she wasn’t visiting the computer lab she was often found using the foot bike and leg extension machines.  This made total sense since Rene always kept our staff on their toes as she darted from one activity room to the next investigating what others were doing.  Rene loved to draw but she absolutely loved watching the Wiggles.  There were days we would look out the window and there she was lying out on the grass arms and legs spread and a big smile on her face just enjoying herself.  That’s how we will always remember this amazing individual who left a hole in our hearts.

Rene you will truly be missed.


Look Who Turned 70!!

Happy Birthday to Patricia Austin who turns 70!

Patricia (Pat) Austin was born Patricia Ann Davey November 7, 1946 in Richmond CA.

Pat says she was born with Cerebral Palsy and used a wheelchair from an early age. She lived with her parents until she met a handsome man named Howard Thomas Austin. They met through family members and married in 1974. Pat felt proud of her husband who was an orderly and later an LVN. She said he also worked at a mortuary which Pat shared with 018some giggles. Pat said she enjoyed being married. She said they went on trips together to the Bahamas, Florida, Lake Tahoe and they took Pat’s step daughter, Vicki, to Disneyland in LA. Pat was married for 9 years and then they divorced. She said, “At least I took the plunge!”

I asked Pat what she wants to do before her 80th birthday. She said she would like to meet her favorite soap star from the Young and the Restless, Eric Branden. She said she also wants to see Hillary win the Presidential Election.

As far as life advice, Pat says, “Be patient, don’t argue and never go to bed angry because you’re always sorry afterwards.”

Pat says, “I like being 70. Don’t be afraid of old age. You feel more mature and you can speak your mind and you don’t have to be afraid of what [others] say. I feel stronger at 70.”

UCP Appoints New Board Officers

United Cerebral Palsy of San Joaquin, Calaveras & Amador Counties is proud to announce that Dan Natividad will serve as 2016-2017 Board President, alongside members Cheron Vail, Vice President; Carmin Tomassi, Treasurer; and Deanna Moreno, Secretary. 

Natividad has been a member of the Board since 2009 where he has carried out the position of Secretary and Vice President.  He is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions and has over thirteen years of experience implementing strategic marketing plans for organizations in the energy, education, and healthcare industries.  Dan holds a MBA from University of the Pacific and a Bachelor of Science from UC Davis. He is a Stockton native and resides in his hometown of Stockton with his wife and two children.

 “It’s an exciting time to be involved with UCP of San Joaquin, Calaveras & Amador Counties. Not only do we have dynamic leadership with our new CEO Lynn Hogue, but we have a dedicated staff of experienced, committed, and compassionate individuals living our mission and serving our clients every day. I look forward to working together with my fellow board members and UCP staff to further shape the future of our organization and live our mission of providing a ‘Life Without Limits’ to all persons with disabilities,” states Natividad. 

f858dbe2-5f02-43eb-8cd2-e893eb384af8Cheron Vail will serve as Vice President.  She is the Chief Information Officer at Health Plan of San Joaquin where she is responsible for short and long term strategic planning of information technology. During her career in the military, she received her Ph.D. from UC San Diego and her MS from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.  Cheron has over 30 years of experience in information technology.

54a69e74-0556-43f6-90d4-b2191589e3c2Serving as UCP Treasurer, Carmin Tomassi is a CPA and Senior Manager at Moss Adams LLP. He received his B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and International Business from California State University, Monterey Bay, and his Masters of Accountancy from the University of Southern California. At Moss Adams LLP, he has worked with several large hospitals and hospital systems, hospice and long-term care companies.  He currently resides in Manteca, CA with his wife Nicole and their family.

5edc30df-ebf6-4b88-a31e-35d85b9de18dDeanna Moreno has been appointed Secretary of UCP.  She works for the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) and has served in a number of capacities, including her current assignment of Compliance Coordinator.  Deanna has a strong commitment to special education, as well as, being a parent of a special needs student. She grew up in Stockton and currently resides in Lodi.

Spark of Night – The Record Article


Gearing up for prom

Spark of Night event is for people with disabilities

By Almendra Carpizo
Record Staff Writer

Posted Sep. 13, 2016 at 5:09 PM
Updated Sep 13, 2016 at 10:12 PM

AR-160919878STOCKTON — When Beverly Gunderson arrived to the small room at United Cerebral Palsy where dozens of gowns waited to be chosen, she already knew what she wanted.


“I need a short dress because I’m going to dance with Patrick,” the 24-year-old told staff.


After a search, Gunderson found her gown: a short, vibrant pink and orange bedazzled dress with thin straps and a billowy skirt.

Gunderson is attending her first prom next month.


UCP and University of the Pacific’s Xi Chi Sigma fraternity are hosting the inaugural Spark of Night prom for people with disabilities. The dance will be from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 29 in the DeRosa Ballroom at Pacific.

The idea for UCP to host a dance in Stockton came from Angela Amaral, a UCP manager, after learning about former NFL player Tim Tebow’s similar event in Livermore, said Corinne Seaton, director for adult programs and services at UCP.


During the initial planning of the event, UCP staff realized the majority of their clients weren’t familiar or exposed to the high school ritual.

“We’d go to clients and ask if they were going to prom and it took us four days to realize they didn’t know what prom is,” said Debbie Jungeblut, executive administrative assistant at UCP. “It’s not a concept they have in their minds.”


Organizers said they decided to host the event because they wanted clients to feel special and get the full experience of prom, which includes finding that special dress.


Last week, about two dozen women and girls had the opportunity to choose their dresses from the more than 100 gowns available for free at UCP.

Seaton said Jacqueline Faylor of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, a nonprofit that provides prom dresses and tuxes for high school girls and boys who otherwise could not afford to buy them, allowed UCP to use dresses Faylor had in storage.


Last Wednesday, Gunderson and 36-year-old Jessica Robertson stopped by in the afternoon to find their frocks. Robertson was set on finding a blue or black dress and after trying on a handful of gowns, she found it.

“I like it. It’s my favorite color,” she said of the strapless, sky-blue knee-length dress she chose.


Robertson said she’s never been to prom and hadn’t worn a dress since she was a baby, so she was excited to dress up, paint her nails, put on makeup and dance with friends.


“It’s fabulous to see the girls, and even the boys, get excited,” Jungeblut said.


Prior to the dance, volunteers will be applying makeup and styling the hair of the women for free, and during the event, a photographer will be taking their photographs at no cost.


UCP, which also services people with autism and brain injuries, wants to get rid of any obstacles, such as cost, for people who are interested in attending the prom, Seaton said. The only requirements are that the main guests must be 16 or older and have a disability, but they are allowed to bring one guest.


Seaton said the ballroom has a 350-person capacity and they want to reach that number. So far, about 80 people have reserved their spot, but UCP will be reaching out to the Stanislaus County chapter of UCP.


UCP plans to make the prom an annual event to give people with disabilities an experience they don’t often receive, Seaton said.


People who want to attend the prom have until Sept. 30 to reserve their free tickets. For reservations or for help finding a gown or tuxedo, call Angela Amaral at (209) 834-3282.


— Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at (209) 546-8264 or acarpizo@recordnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlmendraCarpizo.