What started as a job opportunity that she thought would help advance her career has grown into a labor of love for Penn-Mar Direct Support Professional and Residential Supervisor Katie Shaw.
Looking for a life change, Katie moved to Pennsylvania nine years ago from her native state of Texas, where after graduating from high school she became a Certified Nursing Assistant – a stepping stone to becoming a Registered Nurse. She has family in York County so the transition wasn’t too difficult, and although she said it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the area, she doesn’t care at all for its allergy season.
Once settled in her new home state, Katie enrolled at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College to pursue her RN degree. She took on part-time work at the college, and also worked in retail cosmetics, but the work wasn’t in line with her career path, so she decided to look for a better match. It was a random online job search that ultimately led her to Penn-Mar.
“I felt like I needed to step up my game,” she said. “To be honest I thought [a job at Penn-Mar] would look good on my college résumé. Six years later I’m still here.”
A lot has happened since Katie joined Penn-Mar. Three years ago, she became a mother to a daughter, Quinn, and, with her partner Brian Alexander, bought their first home in Red Lion, Pa. As for her studies, she has put them on hold for the time being to focus on raising Quinn, and working full-time at Penn-Mar with her other family.
Doing Unto Others . . .
As a Residential Supervisor in Lineboro, Md., Katie works with Tim O’Neill, Jay Griffin, and Austin Taylor. She solely manages all of their supports that include supervision, assistance with their daily living routine and finances, as well as implementing their person-centered plan. She works 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., and also works Saturdays.
“The main reason I fell in love with this job, is that it makes me feel good,” said Katie. “It’s knowing that I’m helping to make a difference in somebody’s life. I’m helping them be all they can be and get the most out of their lives.”
Katie gives a lot of credit to her parents and grandparents for instilling in her the desire to nurture and take care of people. They showed compassion for others, she said, and lived by the Golden Rule, the universal principle of treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated. She also credits her faith.
“On my journey, I have come to believe that God brings us to the places he wants us, and I believe he has brought me here for now.”
Penn-Mar’s Associate Director of Development, Rich Dozier, who has worked with Katie and followed her progress, said it was easy to talk about her, because she’s exemplary at what she does, and is authentic in her interactions with the gentlemen she supports and others.
“Katie goes above and beyond what her normal job parameters are,” said Rich. “Anytime Tim, Austin, or Jay need her outside her standard hours, she’s always there and always accessible to them. She’s taken on almost a sisterly role, and they look at her certainly as family.”
This past October, Katie enrolled in Penn-Mar’s Career Ladders program in pursuit of her DSP-I certification. She said the training has helped to broaden her perspective on the profession and slow things down. Between work, Career Ladders and raising a daughter, she has had to manage her time wisely – micromanage it, she said, and the training has helped.
“If you had asked me a few years ago whether a career as a DSP was in my future, I would have said, no, it’s just a step up towards my nursing career,” said Katie. “But right now, I’m making the most of what I can with what I have, and looking to go further.”