By Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
They say if time moves quickly you must be having a good time (or getting older!). If true, 2018 must have been the best of times for Penn-Mar, a fast-paced year brimming with major accomplishments fueled by our culture of innovation.
We have so much to be proud of:
- Penn-Mar received the prestigious Moving Mountains national award recognizing our best practices for DSP career development, retention and training. This distinction is a validation of the groundbreaking work we have been doing to address a 30-year workforce crisis by developing a Career Ladders certification training program that provides opportunities for DSPs to grow their knowledge, skills, value and compensation.
- Committed partnerships and innovative collaborations were behind the purchase and development of our new 35,000 sq. ft. Penn-Mar North Day Learning Center in New Freedom, PA, which officially opened in June. As we move toward our goal of full inclusion for the individuals we support, this new facility will allow us to better assist each person to increase their level of community participation.
- Through an innovative Pathway Grant program, the Penn-Mar Foundation has committed to investing in our team member initiatives that accelerate social and economic mobility for the individuals supported by Penn-Mar, innovations that traditional funding sources do not cover.
- And after creating a Task Force to study and define what a “person centered” culture means, not just by definition but specifically at Penn-Mar, all of our team members are committed to Empowering people to be their own voice, to make more decisions on their own, and have more control over different aspects of their lives, to the greatest level they can manage.
This year has been the culmination of a longer term vision that is continuing to develop how people with intellectual disabilities can be full participants and partake in the things that all of us do each and every day.
And as we move forward in 2019, we will be continuing to look at best practices, processes and new programs that will best utilize our resources and bring about our best future.
Following a full evaluation of our headquarters space in Freeland, MD, we will be making significant changes there to accommodate future growth and address the new way our services will be provided.
We will also be completing the sale of our two Penn-Mar North buildings in Glen Rock and relocating the remaining offices and services there to the facility in New Freedom, PA.
More importantly, we will be actively trying to influence decision makers and systemic changes that support innovation at Penn-Mar and beyond. We are committed to being public policy advocates — working in tandem with groups like PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources) and MACS (Maryland Association of Community Services) — to create a meaningful process whereby “the system” doesn’t get in the way of our efforts but serves as a catalyst rather than a barrier.
We accomplished a great deal in 2018, setting ourselves apart as true leaders and innovators. But committed innovators know that the work is never finished, and the road ahead a long and challenging one. We must never lose our hunger for innovating.
I can assure you that the acceleration of innovation and change at Penn-Mar is never going to slow down. We are in the relationship business so how we engage with and respect our team members is a critical piece of our core value of innovation and an important internal employee engagement strategy currently underway.
Our goal is to have every person we support engaged in all the opportunities they want to be engaged in, and for every team member to feel fully valued and supported by our organization. All of us need to be coming to work every day saying, “How can I do my job better than yesterday?”