Date started with Aspire: March 1, 1989
Brief description of what you do: My primary responsibility is oversight of licensing and compliance systems within the organization based on Oregon Administrative Rules. Oversight of the agency electronic record keeping system. Monitor medical service systems for residents with SOA, coordinate with external regulatory partners and oversee coordination of individual resident personal benefits with external partners. My role involves the monitoring of quality throughout the organization with the goal always being to see that standards are not just met, but that at every level it is measured by supporting people to have services that are meaningful and meet their individual wants, needs and desires.
Your professional background: Originally hired as a coordinator with the public school system as part of the downsizing the state institution (Fairview) I have spent most of my adult life employed at SPARC Enterprises and Stepping Stone Residential Services, now known as Southern Oregon Aspire. My roles have included working as a Direct Support Professional in residential and vocational programs, management positions in both residential and vocational programs, special project coordinator, Staff Development Coordinator, Residential Director, Assistant Director and now my current role as COO.
How has working at Aspire impacted your life: Aspire has been a part of most of my “grown up” years. I cannot really separate my “work life” and “home life” and yet with that there is an amazing sense of balance. Every aspect of my life, from raising my children, meeting my husband, how I spend my personal time are related and influenced by my chosen career path. I am blessed that every day I get to do work that I love because I have the privilege of supporting some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I also have a team of co-workers who are equally inspiring
Best facet of working at Aspire: People! The people that I get to work with inspire me and bring great joy in my life. I refer first to the people we support and second to my co-workers. I get to do work that makes a difference in the lives of others and the community I am part of.
What brought you to Aspire: At the age of 2 years old I was in an auto accident which resulted in amputation of my right arm. As a child growing up I was continually told by others what my abilities and limitations were based on their perception of what having one hand meant to them. I did not accept that very well and this instilled in me the desire to see myself and others that are “different” to not allow others to define me, but rather to find my own path and way of doing things.
I also happened to have a good friend growing up that was Intellectually Disabled. I just saw her as my friend and we had a normal, healthy friendship with fun, laughter, fights and all. As I got older I was aware of how she was treated so different and when I learned that she was a resident at Stepping Stone Residential Services (now SOA) I decided that I wanted to be a part of making that positive difference so she could have every opportunity in life that I was demanding for myself.
A few thoughts on encouraging others to become involved with Aspire, in any way, shape or form: People often say to me, “Oh, you must be so patient”, or “Oh, it takes something special to do that kind of work.” I will tell you that I am not the most patient person in the world and I am no more special than anyone else. All it takes is a desire to learn to listen and care about others. Spend a few minutes with one of the people that we are so privileged to support and the world may never look the same again.
What things you would like to see transpire in the future of Aspire and the people we support: I look forward to seeing the people we support truly being able to live the life that they choose. This may include having jobs working in our community, getting married, owning their own homes and chasing their own dreams.
I am excited to see employees join us in believing that there is a bright future and that as employees they are part of changing people’s lives and our community, one person at a time.