Emergency Shelter Mobilization team and Karen Yaffe Lottes Recognized by City of Gaithersburg

by MCS Staff

Per the City of Gaithersburg: At the Mayor & City Council meeting on Monday, March 20, 2023, Program Coordinator Karen Yaffe Lottes and the Emergency Shelter Mobilization Team were recognized with Employee Recognition Awards for the fourth quarter of calendar year 2022. Made up of peers from each department, Gaithersburg’s Employee Recognition Committee (ERC) reviews nominations for individuals and teams on a quarterly basis. These winners are then eligible for the annual Employee & Team of the Year Awards.

Karen Yaffe Lottes, Community Museum Program Coordinator within the Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture, was named Employee of the Fourth Quarter for her efforts to promote the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory and highlight its history through Skywatching and other programs. The Observatory is now open five to six times each year and, at one point, tripled its visitor count.

Karen has taken steps to enhance the Community Museum Facebook Page and enrich programming through STEM Kids from the National Informal STEM Educator Network as well as others. She also promotes other City departments through museum programming, including the Gaithersburg Police K-9 Unit, Environmental Services, and Youth Services. Karen promotes the Museum & Observatory at City events, including the Book Festival & National Night Out Against Crime. She is currently working to find support & funding for the Gaithersburg History Project, a five year study that explores the history & culture of the major racial & ethnic groups that make Gaithersburg so diverse.

The Emergency Shelter Mobilization Team, comprised of Terrilyn Lahs, Gardner Torrence, April Outman, Tam Castillo, Precious Johnson, Gabrielle Mathews, Jake Hersom, Keegan Aragon, Ana Bonilla, Cristen Steele, Juanita Reed, Ty’Riek Henry, Llana Boyce, Jhunceaa Gooden, Asya Davis, and Berkye “Ohene” Nyanin of the Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture, was named the Team of the Fourth Quarter.

The team was nominated for mobilizing & establishing the Activity Center as an emergency shelter following the November 16, 2022 explosion and fire that caused the partial collapse of the Potomac Oaks condominium complex. Within a few short hours, the team coordinated overnight coverage at the Activity Center, relocated and rescheduled programs, and prepared a place for the American Red Cross and Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services to offer emergency assistance. Additionally, several staff members assisted in using the Robertson Park Youth Center (located about a block away from the explosion) as a satellite dismissal location when Brown Station Elementary School was evacuated due to the explosion and loss of power & heat. The team rose to the occasion to assist City residents in an emergency situation & support recovery work thereafter.

For more information about the Employee Recognition Awards please contact the Office of the City Manager.


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