Posted on May 3, 2022
Ashley Schindler is a DSP-III (Direct Support Professional) with a passion for helping others achieve their goals. Penn-Mar was extremely fortunate to have Ashley join the team almost 5 years ago at our Westminster location, formerly Change, Inc.
Ashley found her way to Penn-Mar when looking for volunteer opportunities as a way to help the community. She stumbled upon a full-time position and knew within the first few months it was the right fit. She says, “I think I knew this was a good fit for me when I was able to witness goals being reached by the people I support and just seeing their smiling faces. A lot of us could learn from them and their happiness. Things don’t always need to be so complex to be fulfilling. They teach us to enjoy and be grateful for the simple things in life and I love that! They show us the true meaning of connection.”
Ashley devotes so much time and energy into her position to best serve the lives of the people she supports. When she isn’t busy working, she can be found exercising, finding healthy recipes and cooking, and water tubing in Harpers Ferry.
Penn-Mar has an award-winning Career Ladders program, in which participating DSPs complete education, receive nationally recognized credentials, and are awarded performance-based incentive pay. The program is hugely important to retention. Despite all the hurdles of 2021, Penn-Mar retained 82% of DSPs who’ve earned at least one level of credentials, enabling the people we support to live higher-quality lives. Ashley participated in the Career Ladders program to place more emphasis on person-centered approaches and gain self-awareness as a professional and recognize what skills, talents, insights, and experiences they bring to the workplace.
The Career Ladders Capstone is a reflective essay each participant in Career Ladders writes at the conclusion of their certification journey. The Capstone is done in tandem with DSP-3 certification and gives each participant the opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned and how they plan on bringing these new skills to the organization. In Ashley’s essay, she shares, “All support I give to each person is customized to their needs and wants which practices truly person-centered supports. Listening is a key component to providing person-centered supports and really helps me to learn about the people I’m supporting. Listening with your heart is a huge part to the puzzle. Having strong communication with the people I support and their families builds a stronger support system for the person at the center of the support.”
When asked what advice she would offer to someone considering a career in this field she says, “If someone is looking into this job, I’d say go for it. When I got this job, I had no experience in this field and only had a medical background with some administrative roles in between. But it is the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. It has its challenges but for sure is the coolest. I actually enjoy coming to work and look forward to it everyday!”
One aspect of the job Ashley really enjoys is watching the people she supports achieve goals they set for themselves and celebrating those victories alongside them. She shares how fulfilling this job is particularly advocating for the people she supports, and teaching them how to advocate for themselves. Ashley is especially passionate about encouraging the people she supports to speak up for themselves and finds it extremely rewarding when she gets to witness this in action.
Ashley, thank you for being such a compassionate, driven team member and for helping the people you support live courageously in pursuit of their best life.