• ‘Nurse Patty’ celebrates 25 years of service

    A lot has changed at SERV Behavioral Health System Inc. over the past three decades, yet some things have remained constant. One of them is the presence of Patricia Delgado, RN, BSN. Affectionately known as ‘’Nurse Patty” by consumers and her co-workers, Patricia has served as a Nursing Services Coordinator in SERV Centers for more than 25 years. Whether educating staff on prescription medication, fighting the healthcare bureaucracy, or advocating for consumers, she has proven time and time again to be a compassionate leader, and her commitment to our mission and those in our care has never wavered.

    Recently, Patricia celebrated a milestone anniversary, and we caught up with her to learn more about her time at SERV and what has kept her so passionate about her career for all these years.

    Q: When did you begin working at SERV? What attracted you to the organization?

    A: I started with SERV in 1995, at the beginning of May. Prior to that, I was working in a hospital in the area for 15 years. I remember, one of my co-workers at the hospital had left to pursue a career at SERV, and he highly recommended the organization to me. Also, a lot of the patients I was working with were in SERV programs, and I knew that if I went to SERV, I’d be able to establish better relationships with them and interact with them one-on-one in a more normal environment.

    Ultimately, it was about job satisfaction. I wasn’t getting a lot out of the hospital, and I wanted to do more than just paperwork. SERV offered me the opportunity to be more involved with consumers, advocate for them, and help them get the services they deserve.

    Q: What has changed in the time you’ve been at SERV? What has stayed the same?

    A: Where do I begin? So much has changed. We have really grown significantly as an organization. We have so many more group homes and apartments than we had when I started. We have also been able to expand into new areas and upgrade our facilities and programs. Because of all this, we have been able to help more consumers live independently, work, and go to school.

    What’s stayed the same are the mission, vision, and values. Even though we’ve gone through a lot of changes, we remain devoted to those we serve.

    Q: What are some of your fondest memories?

    A: What I truly love is helping people who were institutionalized for many years see that they can live in the community and lead fulfilling lives. I have so many memories of helping people realize their dreams and become the best versions of themselves. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be there and advocate for the consumers. For many consumers, we are home, and they look to us as family, even though staff maintain therapeutic boundaries. We know we have done and continue to do the best we can for the individuals in our care. In many instances, we have worked with consumers who have terminal illnesses and provided compassionate care for them up until their final days. The memories I’ve made with them—and all the consumers I’ve worked with—will stay with me forever.

    I also really enjoy the client conferences, holiday parties, and events we hold for consumers. We always look forward to these celebrations every year. One year, I remember, the consumers rented tuxes and limos to go to our event. They budgeted for it and everything. We’ve always had great Halloween parties, as well, with pumpkin carving contests and costume contests. It’s extremely rewarding to see everyone so happy and excited.

    If I were to call on one particular memory, it would have to be a sweet 16 birthday party we held for a resident. The resident had always wanted a sweet 16 party, but never got one, and we were able to make that dream happen for her when she was in her fifties. We made the party rock and roll theme, bought her clothes from the times, and decorated the house. We really went all out, and the consumer had an amazing time.

    Q: What is the best part of your job? What keeps you wanting to come to work every day?

    A: That’s easy. The residents! And the staff! My job is incredibly rewarding, and I’m happy to have made an impact on so many lives and met so many amazing people.

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the future?

    A: I would love to see us able to provide more services in a setting to meet the physical challenges of the aging population. I’m also excited to help more people and to see co-workers progress in their careers.

  • After more than a decade of service, Tina Pond discusses her experience as a DSP at SERV

    For Tina Pond, a Residential Counselor in SERV Achievement Centers, there is nothing more inspiring than witnessing a consumer achieve a goal and reach a new level of independence.

    Tina has been a dedicated member of the SERV team for more than a decade. When we heard she recently celebrated a milestone anniversary, we reached out to learn more about her time with the organization and what has kept her so passionate about her career for so many years.

    Q: When did you begin working at SERV? What attracted you to the organization?

    A: I have been working at SERV for 10 years now. I started as a part-time team member. I was looking to earn some extra money doing something I enjoyed. The manager at the time knew me through one of her friends that I worked with at another job. She was very impressed with my longevity in the field (18 years) and my devotion to the individuals we serve. When I told her I was interested, she was happy to oblige. I moved to full-time staff not too long after that.  

    Q: What has changed in the time you’ve been at SERV? What has stayed the same?

    A: During my time at SERV, I have watched a lot of team members and residents come and go. But what has stayed the same is that the team members are extremely hard-working, caring, and have a lot of empathy for this population. They also are very supportive to each other and all of our residents. This is truly a great team of staff and residents.

    Q: What is the best part of your job?  

    A: It gives me great joy to see the individuals we serve succeed at even the smallest task—how excited they get and the smiles on their faces when they feel that sense of accomplishment. A lot of people in this world today take things for granted. This can be the simplest of things like eating, communicating with others, walking, or going to work every day.

    The majority of the population we serve would love to do all of these things independently, but they either can’t or they need assistance and/or adaptive equipment. So, of course, it is absolutely wonderful and inspiring to see them achieve a goal or reach a new level of independence.

    Q: What keeps you wanting to come to work every day?

    A: Knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life. For many of the consumers, we are family, and they look to us for support and guidance. I always try to focus on a person’s ability rather than their disability. It is my duty to help them achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.  

    Q: What are some of your fondest memories?

    A: Oh, I love watching one of the consumers react and get excited over fireworks on Independence Day and all of the lights on Christmas. Once, I also had a non-verbal individual give me a hug out of the blue. The individual would normally never do something like that, and it was shocking to myself and my co-workers who witnessed it. Another time, during a trip to a pumpkin patch, a consumer had picked his pumpkin and began hugging it because he was so happy that he was there. There are so many memories I could list, but these three things stand out.

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the future?

    A: Many more years of continuing to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

  • Business Transformation Services: SERV’s heroes behind the scenes

    March 16, 2020: That’s when it all started.

    With the global pandemic forcing the closure of many facilities, SERV’s Business Transformation Services (BTS) team sprang into action.

    First, they focused on facilitating work from home and other corporate pandemic measures. This included a massive build and rollout of laptops, as well as an expansion of VPN technology use and instructional activities.

    They were also tasked with reviewing and revising security priorities. Unfortunately, hackers love a crisis. So, the BTS team prepared to secure and privatize SERV’s new work environments in the face of threats.

    Adjusting to the new normal wasn’t easy. But SERV’s heroes behind the scenes worked tirelessly to ensure the transition went as smooth as possible.

    “We were instantly challenged after doing a COVID-19 impact analysis,” said Bob Donahue, Senior VP of BTS. “To keep pace with the pandemic, we accelerated our decision-making framework while maintaining alignment to our immediate corporate priorities and long-term goals.”

    According to Donahue, the BTS team needed a “course correction,” which called for a resequencing of project plans and tasks without disrupting SERV’s frontline workers.

    The correction involved working with vendors and project teams to establish new, innovative plans that shifted the workload toward more technical aspects that could be handled by the BTS team and non-direct caregivers.

    “We were asking employees for an extraordinary effort in this time of crisis,” Donahue said, “and they delivered.”

    SERV’s BTS team consists of Mark Bensel, Senior Systems Application Analyst; John Mellon, Senior Network Engineer; Yaqoob Yousafzai, Senior Desktop Engineer; Mike Keating, Desktop Support and Helpdesk Engineer; and Stacey Padovano, IT Project Coordinator.

    Right now, the team is working on several major business platform projects. Among them are a new phone system (8x8), a new requisitioning and accounts payable platform (SAP Concur), a migration to Quickbooks online and Raisers Edge/Blackbaud Fundraiser Software, and an implementation and buildout for Project Management Office and Netsmart Telehealth services.

    The team also remains focused on cyber security and plans to offer security awareness training for staff in the coming weeks.

  • Moving forward, making a difference: two SERV team members discuss their roles as essential care workers

    Taniel Isaacs, a Vocational Skills Trainer, knelt down and took hold of D.K.’s shoelaces for what seemed like the hundredth time. “First, you want to make an X,” he said, crossing one lace over the other, “and then pull tight.”

    You could hear the fatigue in Taniel’s voice. It was getting late, and he and D.K. had been at it for hours without any progress. Every time he thought he was getting through to him, something—a sound, a light, a thought—would throw off D.K.’s concentration, and they’d end up back at step one.    

    At the time, Taniel had only been with SERV for two months, so he couldn’t help but question himself and his teaching methods. What am I doing wrong? he wondered. Am I not speaking clearly?

    You see, this was just as much a learning experience for him as it was for D.K. While D.K. was learning how to tie his shoes, Taniel was learning the importance of patience and understanding when dealing with a consumer.

    But it wasn’t until the next day that Taniel realized the true impact of the time he’d spent helping D.K.

    As soon as Taniel arrived for his shift, D.K. came rushing toward him, his eyes wide with excitement. “Look—look, I did it…just like you showed me,” he said, pointing to his shoelaces, which were tied in a perfect knot.  

    And now, nearly three years later, Taniel recalls this memory with D.K. as a “career-defining” moment.

    “It was right then, as D.K. showed me his tied shoelaces, that I knew I was in the right place and that I wanted to devote myself to helping others,” he says. “This is such a rewarding career, and I cannot think of anything I’d rather be doing.

    “The feeling I get when I see that I have made a difference in someone’s life, that I have truly helped them learn a new skill or overcome a challenge—there’s nothing like it. It’s why I’m here at SERV, and it’s what keeps me motivated to do my best and keep moving forward.”

    Taniel was recently promoted to Program Supervisor in SERV Achievement’s PAC Day Habilitation Program. He says he’s excited about his new role and the opportunity to grow as a leader in the behavioral healthcare industry. He’s also looking forward to continuing to build strong relationships with consumers.

    The PAC Day Habilitation Program reopened at 50% capacity in May, after closing its doors in March of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Although he is excited to return to normal operations, Taniel expects that it will pose a challenge for some consumers.  

    “Some of the consumers have gotten too comfortable with being stuck at home,” he says. “They have not been able to go out and socialize in the community for over a year, and I think it may be difficult to get them back into a routine. But it’s time, and I am ready to help them as much as I can.”

    Also moving up the ranks in SERV Achievement’s PAC Program is Stephanie Vil. Stephanie was promoted from Vocational Skills Trainer to Assistant Supervisor in Mercer County.

    Stephanie joined the SERV team in March of 2019 as an overnight Residential Counselor at a Lawrenceville group home. Prior to that, she had served as a Residential Counselor at a number of organizations, gaining nearly a decade of experience in providing compassionate care. 

    For Stephanie, SERV represented two things: change and growth.

    “I felt stuck at my previous jobs. Despite many years of service as a care provider, I was never able to move up,” she says. “I knew SERV had upward-mobility and that the organization invested in its employees’ futures. So, when I saw an opportunity to join the team, I jumped on it. It was a way forward and matched up with my long-term professional goals.”

    As an Assistant Supervisor, Stephanie is eager to take on new responsibilities and have a “more involved” role in the organization.  

    “Serving others is my calling, and I’m thrilled to take this next step in my career,” Stephanie says, adding that she intends to take advantage of every opportunity the organization offers her.

    Of particular note, Stephanie is interested in using SERV’s tuition reimbursement program to further her education. She says she has her sights set on a degree in psychology. 

  • NJACP honors SERV team member Michele Bradley during DSP Hero Awards

    On September 18, in honor of National DSP Recognition Week, the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) hosted its first DSP Hero Awards event, wherein they spotlighted individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

    Among the heroes recognized was SERV team member Michele Bradley.

    Michele has been with SERV for more than a decade and has dedicated her life to our mission-driven work. She currently serves as supervisor of the SERV Achievement Centers’ day program in Mercer County.

    When nominating Michele for the NJACP DSP Hero Award, Evan Townsend, the Regional Director of SERV Achievement Centers, wrote, “Michele has gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has taken the lead on supervising all of the Progressive Achievement Center staff members and has been covering two group homes.

    “Because of her commitment, her strong communication skills, and her fair leadership style, Michele earns the respect of everyone with whom she works. I always know that I can count on Michele to provide the very highest level of care, which allows me to focus on managing general operational concerns and e-learning efforts for PAC.”

    Michele is one of the many SERV DSPs who have demonstrated heroic levels of selflessness and compassion during this unprecedented time.

    Throughout the week, COO Bob Bacon, Director of Behavioral Support Kristina Escobar, and Regional Director Evan Townsend sent emails to team members in SERV Achievement, paying tribute to them and thanking them for their hard work and dedication. In Thursday’s email, they wrote, “As essential workers, you’ve been working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing compassionate care to those who need it most.

    “From organizing barbeques to hosting arts and crafts and game nights, you have gone above and beyond to maintain a positive environment for consumers during this crisis. You are the heart of our organization, and the services you provide are making a real, lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals.

    "We cannot thank you enough for your tireless work and dedication. You are invaluable to our mission and organization, and we appreciate you more than we could ever express. You are our heroes!”

  • 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.”   

  • SERV Behavioral Health System to Host Job Fair in Clifton July 1

    SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc. will host a job fair in Clifton, NJ on Thursday July 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The organization is hiring Residential Program Managers, Residential Coordinators, Residential Counselors, and Senior Residential Counselors.

    What: Job Fair

    Where: 777 Bloomfield Ave, Clifton, NJ 07012

    When: Thursday, July 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    If you are unable to attend the event, and you are interested in launching a career at SERV, please email your resume to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    To learn more about the opportunities at SERV, please visit

    Why SERV?

    SERV is an award-winning, not-for-profit behavioral healthcare organization. Focused on compassionate care and personal empowerment, we offer a full spectrum of recovery services for children, youth, and adults living with chronic mental illness, substance use disorder, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    What sets us apart as one of the most desired workplaces is our commitment to providing the best work/life balance options for our team members. We offer flexible schedules, multiple work locations, generous PTO, and robust benefits packages. We also understand that career development and advancement are key to the success of both our team members and the organization.

    By investing in our team members today, we prepare our organization for the future. This is why we are committed to developing a team of talented professionals who are better equipped to support our mission, make an impact, accelerate their careers, and meet and exceed the ever-changing demands of our industry.

  • SERV employee speaks out against police brutality and systemic racism

    “No justice, no peace!”

    “Silence is violence!”

    “Black lives matter!”

    Over the past few weeks, these chants have reverberated across the nation, as droves of people emerge from self-isolation and flood the streets each day to protest the senseless killing of George Floyd—an unarmed, African-American man who died beneath the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. 

    Protesters are not only calling for the end of police brutality, but also for real change when it comes to broader racial injustices African-Americans experience daily.

    Among those advocating for change is Francis Akintola, a 28-year-old Residential Counselor at SERV. 

    Born in Ibaban, Nigeria, Akintola immigrated to the United States in 1999, after his father won a Visa Lottery. Since then, he said, he has experienced first-hand “the rash of police brutality and systemic racism in our society.”

    “It’s no secret that the Black community is suffering,” Akintola said. “It’s sad that it took the death of George Floyd for this protest to happen, but I’m glad people are finally pushing for change and having these difficult conversations.

    “While we might not like to discuss racism, it’s a real issue that is affecting millions, and I’m encouraged to see so many people—people from all races and backgrounds—come together in solidarity to support this cause,” he added. 

    On Thursday, June 4, SERV released a statement against racism, violence, inequality, and discrimination. In it, the organization’s CEO, Regina Widdows, wrote, “We must remain committed to our mission and practice our core values daily. 

    “We must also continue to foster an environment that embraces diversity, growth, and cultural sensitivity—an environment where all people are seen and all voices are heard. Our identity is rooted in empowering everyone, and right now, it’s incumbent upon us to promote and support systemic change.”

    Widdows concluded her statement with a call-to-action. “The path forward begins with courageous conversation and unity,” she wrote. “With that in mind, I ask that you reach out to your team members this week to see how they are doing. I ask that you embrace all opinions, not just those that align with your own. I ask that you show compassion for those who are scared, suffering, or navigating unseen circumstances. And finally, I ask that you join me and everyone on the leadership team in continuing to advocate for real, lasting change.”

    Widdows’ statement resonated with Akintola, who said, “Right now, many people are struggling to find a way to voice their frustrations, and it’s uplifting to know we have the support of leadership. Her words truly were inspiring.”

    Akintola joined the SERV Team in December of 2019. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from William Paterson University. 

    In addition to his work at SERV, Akintola is a student at Rutgers University, where he is working towards a Master’s Degree in Social Work and serves as Co-Chair of the school’s Student Government.

    There are several different ways we can all protest peacefully, according to Akintola, who intends to continue using his voice and influence to shed light on the issues affecting people of color.

    “Whether it’s marching down the street, signing petitions, or posting on social media, there a number of ways we can all make an impact without resorting to rioting and violence,” he said. “We should all do our part to spread awareness, but we need to do it peacefully.”  

    Akintola and his classmates are planning to hold a social awareness event this summer, wherein they will discuss how to end systemic racism and prevent police brutality in New Jersey. During the event, they will offer local police officers a chance to express their opinions, as well.