‘Spot’ program lauded

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

When Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority employee Tracey Snipes got a black, white and blue stuffed dog through a giveaway at a conference, she knew just what to do with it.

Snipes dubbed the dog “Spot” and used him to institute an employee recognition program. Spot travels around the agency via employees, who use him to recognize another employee’s efforts. Each honoree keeps Spot for a week, and then passes him on to applaud another employee for his efforts.

“It makes people feel pretty good,” Clarissa McAdoo, executive director of the agency, said. “Their peers are saying they’re doing a good job.”

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Spot can go anywhere in the agency, whether on a desk in the administrative office or on the dashboard of a maintenance cart.

“Everybody gets acknowledged,” McAdoo said. “It’s just so simple, and the innovation was that it didn’t cost anything.”

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials agreed. The national organization recognized the Spot program for its administrative innovation — one of five awards Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority took home from the national conference in Portland, Ore. last week.

“It makes my employees proud, and they’re always looking for more innovative things to do,” McAdoo said. “It really means a lot, particularly to the staff for the work that they do, to be recognized on a national level for that work.”

The other four awards the agency received were for the Hall Place Revitalization Project, the Peer Review Program, the Life Enrichment Affair 2008, and the Empowerment Workshop II.

In addition to winning a community revitalization award, the Hall Place project was nominated for an award of excellence, McAdoo said. The new nomination meant preparing another submission, a poster board pictorial of the project, to tell the story of Hall Place. The organization will find out if the project wins the higher award in October.

The empowerment workshops, which won recognition for resident and client services, invite SRHA residents to come to the headquarters every fourth Friday of the month to hear speakers who tell them how they can improve their lives. Also winning in the same category was the Life Enrichment Affair 2008, which brought together community partners at the National Guard Armory so people could come and get information on various services, McAdoo said.

The peer review program at the agency was recognized for administrative innovation. The program involves employees checking each other’s work to ensure all policies and guidelines are met.

“It didn’t cost us anything to improve our effectiveness with meeting our policies,” McAdoo said.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials is a 76-year-old membership organization of 9,500 housing and community development professionals. Its mission is to create affordable housing and safe viable communities that enhance the quality of life for all Americans, especially those of low and moderate income.