As the Denver Supported Employment Program Manager at Sample Supports, my main priority is placing individuals with disabilities into integrated employment opportunities through which they’re able to demonstrate their significant skills and capabilities, and for which they earn a competitive wage while performing purposeful, rewarding work.
To ensure that these individuals are successful in their employment, I arrange their onsite job coaching support: highly trained, compassionate professionals who guide each worker through job-specific tasks, who address behavior management, and who model professionalism in its various manifestations.
As a former educator and small business owner, I’m daily thrilled to witness our workers learning new skills and contributing meaningfully to our partner businesses’ operations. I believe that supported employment benefits not only the individual worker, but also immeasurably adds to employers’ quality of life and labor. The workers in our Supported Employment program, who become our friends and colleagues, are their own most powerful advocates; few experiences in my professional and personal life have been as satisfying as helping them “walk the walk” as valuable, skilled employees.
Phillip Sparer - Supported Employment Manager
A day in the life of me at Sample Supports involves a lot of team work with agency members outside of my immediate team. It involves creating new processes and helping different positions within the agency work through those changes. My days involve enjoyable time spent with our Finance client, powering through data entry and joking about being silly. Seeing him take on a new task and turn it into way more than I asked makes me so proud. My days include spreadsheets and reports and data and also real people for whom I come to work. Creating processes to help them provide successful services to our clients is the whole reason any of us are here.
Emily Drumm - Accounting Coordinator
I love helping people! I love seeing my staff succeed in day program and move up in the company even if it means having them leave my program. Building relationships every day with outside teams and my team is important. I love the relationships I have built and love going to meetings and getting direct referrals to benefit my program. The thing that sticks with me is OWN your program and I feel that has been my accomplishment more and more each month I'm in this position.
Although being direct with people has never been my strong suit I feel I can still have my "blue" personality (connecting and creating quality relationships, is what motivates and drives them) and make sure things are done. I feel like I bring something new to the management team and am proud to have been promoted after 3 months of direct care so it shows I was doing something right I love learning about people and their pasts, this is the most interesting thing about the world in my eyes. Even though I'm quiet, it's because I'm a listener and want to know more about each individual and staff member. What are people's strengths? How can I get through to people in a productive way? I believe in the good of each person and want everyone to succeed in life.
In short terms of the day in the life of me: I love to teach and see people succeed, seeing behavior break throughs with clients, and I LOVE Asana
I will never forget the first time that a stranger asked me who my people were. That’s how most conversations with strangers begin in the small southern town that I am from. I never really knew how to answer that question. I usually listed out my parents or the street I lived on. Friendships develop if your people were their people. I always wanted a better answer.
I did not know I would find my people at Sample Supports. I discovered that during my first week. My data plan ran out and my GPS stopped updating. I had one individual left to pick up for work and no idea when my next turn was coming up. Out of options, I asked the work crew in my car if they knew where to go. An individual in our back seat directed me the final 5 miles of the trip using thumb arrows high enough to be seen safely in my rear view. We didn’t miss a turn.
As a residential coordinator, I see my people each week around the office, community, or in their homes. On good days, I get to eat lunch with them during their work breaks and hash out important conversations about the Bronco’s starting quarterback, what things are worth spending money on, and which movies are or aren’t worth watching. In the home, we’re role playing doctor’s visits to troubleshoot procedures or conversations that might be scary. On stressful days, I’m walking around Olde Town Arvada to figure out where they are taking space after a difficult conversation or peer escalation. I love my work because those moments are opportunities to build skills that advance our clients toward their goals. Our clients work hard to develop meaningful and fulfilling lives for themselves and being there to support them in those moments of need is what this job is all about.
This field is full of uncertainty and challenges but no matter how stressful or unpredictable my day becomes I know I’ll head into the office the next day being warmly welcomed by my people.
Alex Jones - Residential Coordinator
Hi! I’m Monica Cherry, serving happily and passionately as our northern region’s residential program manager. To pick a slogan for this life: NEVER A DULL MOMENT
Seriously, how can I describe a day in the life of me? I’m all over the place…and I love it! Supporting individuals in a residential program is no easy task, but what is life without a good challenge?
My day to day really starts with my mindset. I believe that there is nothing more powerful than a changed mind, so when it comes to managing our residential program, I try to approach most things from the perspective that my program is a part of a MOVEMENT of change – not only the change that we see manifested within the individuals that we serve, but also, just as importantly, I’m talking about a cultural change in the mindset of our communities about the way that we are serving! I love the idea of competition for service agencies, because I know that we are raising the bar on the standards of services that are being delivered, and I believe that service agencies across the board need to be held accountable for maintaining these standards. So, as I manage the residential program from day to day, I try to keep these bigger picture elements in mind, because I know that these are the keys to not just growing my program within Sample Supports, but also for pushing forward this service industry as a whole!
Doing this work also requires a healthy balance of “all the things” – I like to think of it as a delicate dance, if I flow with intention and focus, then all things land gracefully, but if I get distracted or lose sight of the big picture, then things can fall out of alignment. It is super important for me to take the time that I need to maintain my own levels of inner peace and balance. And that doesn’t mean that as I go along, all things always perfectly line up – as a matter of fact, a big part of this job is tending to and managing those critical tasks or crisis moments – but the stronger the foundation for success is set through preparation and proactivity, the lesser the degree of tilt! So, a lot of my day to day is ensuring that a strong foundation is laid for the establishment and well-being of the whole program.
It is much more difficult than I realized to summarize any particular “day in the life” because the reality is that my days are ever changing and evolving! I embrace the mentality of “go with the flow” while at the same time, intentionally guiding that flow! When I see things that need to be done, I do them. When I find gaps in the system, I fill them. I catch the sparks before the fire starts. I observe, listen, learn and implement. But most of all, I have an amazing team to hold me accountable and to do “all the things” right there with me.
Monica Cherry - Residential Program Manager
I love what I do because it is, quite simply, incredibly fun. Even on days where nothing has gone according to the plan or the schedule, there's always something to laugh about and find humor in. Having a sense of humor in this field is an absolute must, or else the potential drama and chaos that goes hand in hand with the job are going to take a negative toll. You also have to be able to roll with the punches (sometimes literally), and if this job has taught me anything, it's patience. Patience with myself, patience with clients, and patience with the systems that are so integrated in the lives the individuals with disabilities in our services. There's not a day that I don't learn something new or experience something I haven't before, and I honestly love being able to wake up every morning and go to work knowing that I have no idea what's in store for me, but it's going to be a great time regardless.
There are times where it can be very stressful and very intense, but no matter what, there's always going to be a small success that you can identify. Whether it's a client utilizing deep breaths on their own without prompting, walking away from a peer instead of negatively engaging, participating in an activity instead of refusing for the first time, being able to work a full hour without refusing or becoming disengaged....whatever it is, it feels so rewarding to witness all the hard work and consistency we put in to make sure our clients are living as enriching lives as possible. The smallest moments really do make the biggest impact, and help reiterate why I come to work each day. My clients are such an important part of my life and I truly care about each and every one of them. Their success is just as important to me as my own, and I am proud to work for an agency that does literally anything possible to offer meaningful and equal life opportunities for our folks.
Dana Knudson - Supported Employment Manager
People told me I was crazy when I told them I was going to school to get my masters in social work. "You'll get burnt out! And you'll never make a living!" Maybe, but I'll also change people's lives.
No one wakes up one day saying, "I would like to work with clients who have aggressive behaviors and who may threaten to damage my car!" It's not easy working with a client population who struggles to understand how to cope with their thoughts and feelings. But, you don't do it because it's easy, you do it because it literally changes people. I love having hard conversations with my clients about their behaviors, because it helps you get to the root cause of them. We cannot make change unless we are willing to identify why people react the way they do. It's challenging and knowing what causes certain behaviors won't necessarily change them, but it can help the people around them understand them better and show more compassion.
One of the things I love most about my job is watching someone reach success. I so deeply enjoy taking on clients who are labeled as challenging or "impossible", because it is my belief that no one is that impossible. Humans need support and structure in order to be successful. By taking someone off the streets, providing them with housing, money for groceries, and a regular face at their door to check on their personal safety, we not only impact the client's live, we make an impact on the community.
Social work is hard. But if it was easy, we wouldn't really need social workers any more and then I might need to think twice about my decision. :)
Giulia Pecone - Residential Program Manager
You know that job you’ve had, where not matter how much time you spend, there will always be new avenues to explore and new projects to tackle; where, no matter how smart and hard you work, you’ll never get bored? That's a big part of what working at Samples is like!
As an operations manager, I have the opportunity to assist amazing people who support our clients towards their goals. Regardless of the hurdle, our clients have incredible ABILITY to develop and improve many aspects of their lives, allowing them to thrive in all that life has to offer. Getting to know some of the individuals we serve, is one of the best parts of working here. Whether a client is relaying their excitement about an upcoming family party, that they’re looking forward to starting back up with their ice-hockey league, or they’re helping to trouble shoot through a work project at their job they’ve obtained through the agency, it’s wonderful to learn what’s important to them and celebrate their successes.
Providing the level of service our clients need is rarely easy, but coming in each day to work alongside others who are competent and committed, who choose to not just say, “let’s do this”, but “how do we do this better” is something I love being a part of.
Cassy Nicholl - Operations Manager
As an accountant, work life can become pretty predictable and if I’m not careful, boring. While I love working with numbers, I need meaning behind those numbers to feel fulfilled. Working at Sample Supports fills both of these needs - I’m never bored and am happy to be part of a company that provides meaningful services to people.
One of my favorite tasks is to prepare payroll for clients. I absolutely love the fact that we have helped someone to participate in the work community, however small their part may be, and show them that everyone deserves to be in the community. Everyone, regardless of skill level, has a part to play and can be rewarded for their contribution.
One evening at the Rec Center, I ran into one of our clients. He lit up and gave me a big high-five. Me! The bean counter in the back room! Yep - we all have a part to play - and it's a privilege to contribute to a greater good.
- Patty Wineland
Sample Supports provides a wrap-around services, including residential support. Clients who have services under the comprehensive waiver can choose to live with family members, in host homes or in our supported apartment program. We work hard to find long term placements and take the time to find the perfect residential match. Residential specialists visit the home settings regularly to ensure person-centered services are being provided.
Clients in all of our residential programs have seen great success! We are able to step in and provide case management supports to family caregivers, so they can focus on direct care! We have assisted clients in finding stable host homes where they are able to grow skills and live in a supportive atmosphere. Clients in our supported apartment program are given the opportunity to live independently with various levels of support. Overall, our residential program is flexible and adjusts services and supports to meet each individual's needs.
Office Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Monday - Friday