Penn-Mar Human Services Interview – Changing Lives in our Community

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Today I had the pleasure of talking with Trish from Pen-Mar human services.  I wanted to share a few thoughts on this interview.

What struck me while talking to Trish, was the impact on human life.  Think about this for a minute, what if you never had a job?  What if it was us that needed Pen-Mar’s services.  How great would it be for us to get the special care and love we would need to give our life meaning?

One of the stories she shared, was regarding a gentleman that saved his money to purchase a parasail.  We take hobbies and pleasures like this for granted, but for this young man, I have no doubt that his whole perspective and attitude on life has been fundamentally and positively transformed.

We tend to think of things in terms of money, or business, or process improvement, or what do I as a business owner get out of it?    After today’s interview, I was reflecting on, what is the value Pen-Mar is providing to the people they serve?  What I came up with is, there is no amount of money that can be associated with what they do.    Giving purpose and meaning to someone’s life is an amazing feat.


Find out more about Penn-Mar Humans Services Here:  www.penn-mar.org


To listen to today’s PodCast,  http://fivessquared.libsyn.com


Finally, Here is the transcript of today’s Podcast:



Tim: All right. Welcome back to the FivesSquared podcast. We have Trish. How do we say your last name again?


Trish: Zeltwanger.


Tim: Zeltwanger. You’re from Penn-Mar. Right, so tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, why you’re here, what the message is you want to get across today to everybody.


Trish: I’ve been with Penn-Mar from about 27 years.


Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Trish: I’ve played a couple of different roles there. One of my best roles [inaudible 00:00:28] that I play right now and have fun with is being a career counselor for our individuals that we support.


Tim: Okay.


Trish: Yeah.


Tim: Tell us about Penn-Mar. What’s its mission?


Trish: We’re actually an organization that supports individuals with an intellectual disability, whether that be through housing, residential supports, through our day program supports, through our employment supports.


Tim: You get them homes outside of where they’re typically living. Is it all about getting them to be more independent and integrated into society?


Trish: Yes.


Tim: See? I do pay attention.


Trish: Yeah.


Tim: Look at that. You’ve been there for 27 years. What are some of the roles you’ve played there?


Trish: In the past, Penn-Mar was actually a sheltered workshop where we would support our individuals with supplying them subcontract work, where we would bring work into our facility and job train them that way. We have decided to go on a different mission, which I’m very grateful for, and that’s helping our individuals find their niche in our community through employment.


Tim: Okay. Why don’t you just tell me about that process? How does that work? How do people find out about Penn-Mar? They need your services, and then just walk through what that process is.


Trish: It depends. Sometimes it’s just a mom and dad who have an individual or a family member who needs our support. They can go on our website and find out that way, or through the Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. We’re actually an OVR provider now.


Tim: What’s OVR?


Trish: Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation.


Tim: Okay, good. Good. I hear acronyms all the time, and I’m like, “It doesn’t fit what I think it is.”


Trish: That’s an avenue where some of the family members can go. Then, they can ask for our services through that avenue.


Tim: Now, is that a Government agency or what type of agency is that?


Trish: I do believe. Sorry.


Tim: Okay, all right. What’s your primary role now? What do you do?


Trish: I am a career counselor, or what we also call job developer. I support the individuals, finding all of their base skills, what they want to do in this world, where they want to be and what does that look like.


Tim: Do you have any examples of that? Like what people are coming to you when you’re working with them, what do they want to do? What do they want to be?


Trish: Sure. I have an individual right now who would love to work in a flower shop.


Tim: Really?


Trish: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. We’re supporting her in that role. We assessed her skills with trimming of flowers. It’s actually pretty neat. There’s a lot of different things you have to do in a flower shop in order for those flowers to stay nice and fresh.


Tim: Right.


Trish: A special way to actually trim them. We assessed her skills, and found out that she does very well at it.


Tim: That’s awesome.


Trish: She actually has a passion for it.


Tim: How do you match them with the flower shops, or with they want to do?


Trish: First of all, we figure out what it is [crosstalk 00:03:29] wants to do. Then, I take that and then I try to job match that with an employer in our community. I’ll go out and what we do is cold call. I’ll stop in and see how things are going [crosstalk 00:03:42] business.


Tim: Now, you do a lot of networking too. Has that been beneficial for you? Yeah?


Trish: It is, it is. For sure [crosstalk 00:03:49].


Tim: I’m thinking of one flower shop in particular, I won’t name names, in one of our collective groups.


Trish: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. Networking is key for me.


Tim: How do you get the message integrated into the … So there’s the networking, but how do you get that message out at a broader level? Do you work with the Chamber at all or various other organizations within the county?


Trish: Sure.


Tim: Yeah.


Trish: Sure. Actually I’m an ambassador for the York County [crosstalk 00:04:17].


Tim: You are an ambassador [inaudible 00:04:19].


Trish: For the Economic Alliance, which is great, which actually has been wonderful for me. I’ve been meeting a lot of wonderful people, making good friendships and good connections. I’m also on the board for Southern York County Business Association.


Tim: Yes, you are. Yeah.


Trish: Again [crosstalk 00:04:34].


Tim: Cool. How many people do you work with at a time? How many people are in Penn-Mar right now looking for opportunities?


Trish: It varies.


Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Trish: Right now on, what we call, my caseload is, I have about 15 individuals that I’m trying to support.


Tim: Wow.


Trish: I also have a colleague also who has another caseload as well. We’re also, though we’re Penn-Mar, we have two sides of the state, so Maryland and the Pennsylvania side. We actually have career counselors on the Maryland side as well.


Tim: Okay. What about transportation and things for these individuals? I would assume if you’re trying to integrate them into their own homes and things like that, and getting them more integrated into society, how do you deal with that? Do you have special programs around the transportation aspect?


Trish: Sure. We actually provide transportation.


Tim: Oh really?


Trish: We have a transportation department. If they live at home, we also ask for mom and dad’s support or family members, who that might be. If they live on our residential side, the individuals that live in these residential programs, the staff would then help provide with that transportation.


Tim: Okay. All right, cool. How do you come back and ascertain? Do you have a program to run these individuals through to figure out what they’re good at? Or do you leave it to them to say like, “This is what I want to do?” Or how do you develop them, their skills?


Trish: We do have a program. It’s called Customized Employment.


Tim: Okay.


Trish: Part of what we do is an Exploration and Discovery process. We follow that program where we would explore individuals, what they want to do, and we’ll discover what they’re good at. Then, we take all of that and figure out how that would apply to an employment aspect in the community.


Tim: How long does that take?


Trish: About six to eight weeks.


Tim: Oh really? It’s pretty involved.


Trish: Mm-hmm (affirmative), sure. We want a good match. We want a good job match that matches their skills with a need inside of a business.


Tim: Okay. Four to six weeks. Let’s see here. We got a couple of other questions that we’ll go through. Oh yeah, well this leads right in. You’ve matched them, you’ve assessed their skills. You’ve looked at, “Hey. This is what they’re good at.” We’ll take the example of the flower shop, and then the getting employment. What’s the support after they’re employed or what’s that process look like?


Trish: Sure. We actually help the individual get started in their employment. We’ll go with them as long as it takes. The first day, we’ll go in and we’ll help them just … Get them acclimated to the surroundings of where they are and learning how to punch in, knowing for sure where the restrooms are, knowing what time to go to lunch or break. We’ll support that individual. Then, what we do is then assess how they’re doing. If they need some job coaching supports, then we’ll put those and implement them and put them into place. Then, once they’re good at it and they’re comfortable and the employer’s comfortable, we’ll start backing our services out. We never lose sight of them. We’re always in there at least once a month, checking in, seeing how things are going, seeing if there’s a possibility for a growth with more [crosstalk 00:07:46]


Tim: You’re meeting not just with the individual, but also with the employer and saying, “Hey. How’s it going? What can we do?” Okay.


Trish: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.


Tim: Is that what part of your role as a career counselor to do that aspect of the job? Or is that somebody else in the organization that does that?


Trish: We participate on both sides of it.


Tim: Okay.


Trish: Yes. We have job coaches that are put into place that will follow through with them with job coaching and things like that.


Tim: Oh nice.


Trish: Then, they will follow through for follow-up supports.


Tim: How big is the staff there?


Trish: On the Pennsylvania side, there is four job coaches and then there’s two job developers.


Tim: All right, nice. We talked about that. We’ve talked a little bit about connecting with the employers, and you do that primarily through networking. What other services or avenues do you have for employers that are looking to support you or to bring these people onboard?


Trish: Say again?


Tim: I’m just thinking. You do a lot of networking to identify employers, but is there any other things … So if an employer’s listening to this and they want more information, I guess, is it Penn-Mar.org or com or …


Trish: Yeah, .org.


Tim: .org, okay.


Trish: Right.


Tim: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your daily job or trying to place these individuals?


Trish: Sure. Getting the community to open up a little bit more, seeing the great skills that these individuals have and wanting to help to support this program. Also supporting the inside of their business, because our process is to make sure the individual has these great skills and they can actually be a great asset to their employment there.


Tim: Nice. Do you have any success stories you want to share? That would be good for the listeners to see what types of skills and things, where these people have been fit and have just really, really excelled.


Trish: Sure. A couple of years ago, I stopped in at a vending machine company.


Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Trish: They needed somebody to actually process all of the deliveries. I had an individual who liked the warehousing, wanted to put things away and things like that.


Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Trish: We assessed his skills and, for sure, he was able to do that, put things where they need to belong. Then, if they had to pull orders to fill up their trucks to go out and supply the vending machines, that’s what they did as well. He did fantastic with that. He’s actually grown in that position. He is now actually going on the truck.


Tim: Oh really?


Trish: With them, and going and filling these vending machines. Yeah. He grew [crosstalk 00:10:24] we’re all about growth. We’re all about going forward.


Tim: Do you see any individuals that are doing this, their change in demeanor, are they happier? Once they feel like they’re engaged in something worthwhile, how does that affect the person itself?


Trish: With me being at Penn-Mar for 27 years [inaudible 00:10:43] we have individuals coming to our day program where they’re surrounded by paid staff. They live with paid staff. They go on vacation with paid staff.


Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Trish: What we’re finding out is these guys are absolutely transforming life into living through employment. Now, they’re making friends in the community. They’re excited about going to work. They’re making a great paycheck, and they’re able to buy different things. We actually had an individual who saved money, and he bought a, I want to call it, a parasail. I believe that’s what it was called. He loves the water.


Tim: Wow.


Trish: He bought one of those boats, the big sails and all that. That was a goal for him, and that is exactly what he did. Now, he just keeps moving forward with that.


Tim: For these people that have been at a company for a while, like the gentleman, are you still engaged with him? Or …


Trish: Absolutely.


Tim: You are? Okay. This is a long-term, it’s not just …


Trish: Forever.


Tim: Forever.


Trish: It’s forever.


Tim: Forever.


Trish: Forever.


Tim: Wow.


Trish: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tim: That’s why you’ve been there for 27 years.


Trish: Yeah.


Tim: You can’t leave.


Trish: I can’t.


Tim: What do you find most fulfilling about the job and working with …


Trish: Oh just employing these guys.


Tim: Yeah.


Trish: It is very, very satisfying for me to be able to help them do something in this community and be part of our community. It just makes me happy, for sure. Yeah.


Tim: You can see it on your face, if we were on TV.


Trish: Yeah. I got a big smile.


Tim: Yeah. What do you think are the biggest challenge? We talked a little bit about this earlier, like the openness of the community to accept these people [inaudible 00:12:17] employment. Is that the biggest challenge you face, do you think, or how would you …


Trish: Actually sometimes, yes. I’ve seen a big change from my transition from when I was contract manager with Penn-Mar to job developer and career counselor. When I first started doing this, there was a lot of, “No thank you. No thank yous.” Now, it’s, “I’m interested. Tell me a little bit more about it.”


Tim: That’s good.


Trish: The doors are opening a little bit better, but I am always hoping for more open doors.


Tim: More. What do you tell those people when you go in and they’re like, “Yeah. Tell me a little bit more.” They might be a little bit hesitant, but at least you got that crack. What’s your pitch?


Trish: Part of what I try to do is find out what supports they need. Do they have any backlogs in their business? Is there something that, if they had somebody that could support a role, what would that look like? Then, I talk to them about how we process, the process of Customized Employment, excuse me, Exploration and Discovery, what that looks like and how we job match skills with a need inside of the business. Then, it kind of unfolds after that.


Tim: All right. These are more, I guess, do you have clerical roles? Give me a sense of the type of roles. I mean we talked about the doer role of the gentleman at the vending machine place. What are the types of activities that you place these people into?


Trish: I’ve actually placed two gentlemen, actually three at the moment, in different roles inside of a business doing a task where they were making samples for a company. What they have to do is fix certain things to a sample board, and it takes some doing [crosstalk 00:14:09].


Tim: Yeah, no. What were the samples for?


Trish: They’re actually for shingles.


Tim: Oh okay. Yeah, so different colors, different textures, all the stuff that goes into shingles.


Trish: Right.


Tim: Interesting. What else would you like our viewers or listeners, I guess they’re not viewers yet, that’s next year on the Tim Fives TV show, for the listeners to know about Penn-Mar?


Trish: What I’d like for everybody to know is we do have a great program with this. If there are companies out there that are looking to participate in a program or have a need inside of their business that they would like to find customization in that role, please contact us at Penn-Mar Human Services. I mean that’s …


Tim: Okay.


Trish: I’d love for people to …


Tim: It all goes in the show notes for all the listeners to go and look at that and be able to reach out. Can they reach out to you directly?


Trish: Sure.


Tim: All right. We’ll make sure your contact information is in the show notes as well.


Trish: Absolutely.


Tim: Now, this is fantastic. If I’m going out because I work a lot of small business, medium-sized businesses, and things, what are those things that I should be looking for to be an advocate for you?


Trish: Any business that expresses that they have needs that need to be met or openings or anything like that. They would be interested in maybe customizing roles that support their business.


Tim: Okay. This might sound like an odd question, but it just popped into my head. Do businesses get any sort of Government discounts or subsidies for employing these people or …


Trish: There is.


Tim: Yeah.


Trish: Yeah. There is a tax incentive.


Tim: Oh there is a tax incentive. That’s good. See, everybody out there with the tax incentives. Yeah [inaudible 00:15:55] remain after the [inaudible 00:15:56]. All right. No, that’s good to know. Great. I just want to thank you for coming in today …


Trish: Thank you.


Tim: And doing this.


Trish: Wonderful.


Tim: We’ll get this out to the listener community today.


Trish: Great [inaudible 00:16:11].


Tim: It might be good have you come back in and do more of a case study next time too, because I think I’d like to get a little bit more involved in actually maybe following somebody through the process. I think that might be good for the listeners to do that.


Trish: That would be great.


Tim: I don’t know. I’m just throwing out some ideas.


Trish: Sure [crosstalk 00:16:27].


Tim: We’ll get that scheduled for everybody, so we can do that and maybe even if somebody’s comfortable with coming in, bringing one of the individuals in that has gone through the program or something like …


Trish: Oh I’m sure everybody.


Tim: That would be fantastic.


Trish: Good.


Tim: Thank you very much Trish.


Trish: Thank you.


Tim: Everybody find the show notes, so they can reach out to Penn-Mar and it’s .org, correct?


Trish: Correct.


Tim: Penn-Mar.org. Thank you very much.


Trish: Great, thank you.


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