Recognizing the Best of the Best

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

It is always wonderful to recognize achievement, and to see how people in our organization have grown – both Quality Connection members who use our services and the members of our team who provides them.

It’s why our quarterly STAR Awards have such meaning for all of us at QC.

We also love sharing with you how specific programs have also evolved, so in this edition we have an update on our In-Home Services, one of the newest initiatives helping people live more independent lives.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Enews Empowerment.

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

Winter 2024 STAR Award Honorees

It might have been chilly outside, but our Winter STAR Awards party was a warm reminder of how truly extraordinary our community is here at Quality Connections.

STAR stands for Silver Tree Achievement Recognition. It refers to the huge tree mural we have on one of our walls, the leaves made up of “high fives” – little notes of congratulations, encouragement, or just thanks, written on colored paper handprints.

STAR recipients are honored for the progress they are making towards their goals – our members for the work they are doing to develop themselves and our employees for their commitment to supporting our members.

QC Learning student Donna beams with pride as QC Learning Director Tim Harrison (left) and Quality Connections Co-Founder & CEO Armando Bernasconi (right) present her with her STAR Award at last week's celebration.
Congratulations to this season’s Silver Tree Achievement Award recipients. You are part of the reason why when we look around, we see STARS everywhere at Quality Connections.

Evergreen Academy Preschool

Lilliana Johnson – Teacher
Carrie Raabe – Trainee

Group Home Services

Diedre Tso – Direct Care Worker
Cormac Conlin – Resident

In-Home Services
Edith Castruita – Manager

QC Learning

Raelean Howell – Instructor
Donna – Student

Employment Services

Aryana Diaz – Job Coach
Ashlee Chiquito – Trainee

Rapid Growth at In-Home Services

In-Home Services, one of the newest initiatives from Quality Connections, has had explosive growth in the past six months, with almost 40 families using the program that allows the elderly or individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes with some outside help.

In addition to assisting these individuals develop skills so they can be more independent, the program also offers a respite for their primary caregivers, typically other members of their family.

Director Mercedes Johns-Alonzo says the program would not be possible without her Manager Edith Castruita, who recently was presented with a STAR Award for her efforts in maintaining the program’s quality while it grew more than 25% over the past six months.

Quality Connections' In-Home Services Director Mercedes Johns-Alonzo presents program Manager Edith Castruita with a STAR Award last week as Co-Founder & CEO Armando Bernasconi looks on.

“She’s just a go-getter, she’s the yin to my yang,” Mercedes said. “Edith makes sure that every client is staffed, she interacts with families, and the fact that she is bilingual is a big plus. She’s my backbone and vice versa.”

One of Edith’s greatest contributions is pairing clients with in-home care workers. Individuals in the in-home services program are seen anywhere from twice a week to every day, which can stretch the staff of about 27 part-time workers. When necessary, Edith has been known to take on shifts so there isn’t an interruption in care for clients.

Although the program is called In-Home Services, often the work takes clients and staffers outside of a residence, Mercedes said. 

“We want to make sure the people we help are integrated into the community,” she said. “We work to connect our members with outside organizations so they can meet new people and have fulfilling lives. One of our clients was featured in a news article recently because she teamed up with Northern Arizona University students to do adaptive kayaking.”

Popular outings include bowling on Wednesdays and exercise classes at the Aquaplex on Fridays.

To qualify for In-Home Services, clients must be eligible for long-term care services through the state Department of Economic Security. Private pay services are also available, primarily for elderly clients who do not have disabilities. To apply for In-Home Services – or to learn if you or your loved one qualify – please contact Mercedes at (928) 773-8787, or via email at

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *