August 19, 2019
Creating a Beautiful Space!
By Tammy Ritchie and Eric Fitzpatrick
Creating a beautiful space is hard, especially when starting from scratch! Eric’s new home needed a garden, according to Eric because he loves watching things grow. The space was cleared, supplies purchased and the work begun. Eric learned how to use pruners, shovels, rakes and a wheelbarrow. It was hard work and Eric never complained. He choose the plants and put them in place. A bird feeder and bath was added for feathered friends to enjoy. Eric loves maintaining it and the new garden, after creating such a beautiful space!
By Jo Grayson
When I was a college professor teaching English composition courses at Eastern Kentucky University, I never put much thought into what some of my students called “green therapy.” My students would enthusiastically write about the benefits of extra recess time in elementary school as many of them would go on to become teachers of young children who need to have that time outdoors. As I would read on my own, I would read the many benefits of “green therapy" even for adults who have several disorders ranging from Attention Deficit Disorder to Depression. So when Chelsea and her friend Eric asked if I would help them build a garden, I was happy to oblige. I felt that this would be a good opportunity to learn, not only about growing your own food, but also to be able to use these plants in the kitchen. As a project my consumer and I were able to learn many things, including what building materials are required to build a raised flower bed. Together, we were able to choose a design we liked from Pinterest and have some professionals help us with using the heavy equipment required. We were able to look at prices to build the most cost effective space. Chelsea and I were able to learn how long it takes to build such a garden. She and Eric were able to choose what plants they wanted to grow. We learned about planting things too early or too late and what effects wildlife can have on a garden. We also learned about soil and fertilizer. After the garden was built they picked out what they wanted to grow, we were able to plant herbs and some vegetables. All in all, this project has helped Chelsea learn new things as well as being a fun project that will benefit Chelsea for years to come, as we learn each year from trail and error.
August 19, 2019
In this edition of our employee spotlight, we would like to introduce two of our program coordinators: Melinda Brightwell and Brian Parker. Mendy oversees services including family home provider and ABI companion care. Brian oversees community living supports, respite, community access, personal assistance, personal care and homemaker services. They oversee these services in the Louisville, Elizabethtown, Bardstown and Bowling Green areas. Mendy and Brian utilize their wealth of experience and demonstrate teamwork, compassion and hard work on a daily basis to ensure each consumer we serve receives quality individualized services. We asked them to share what being a service provider means to them. Here is what their journey means to them in their own words:
I have been in this field for a little over 16 years. After working in the school system for 8 years, I went to work for an agency as a direct support professional. I loved being a DSP, getting to know clients, and building relationships with teams. I then became a house manager, an ADT assistant Director and then started providing medical coordination with the nurse, before coming here to Path Forward. Being a service provider to me means that you look out for your clients and you do whatever you need to do to make sure that their needs are met. I love working in this field. It is so rewarding seeing our clients having meaningful lives and doing things that they want to do such as going on vacations and being able to get out into the community and do the things they choose to do. As the residential coordinator, I love to see my clients placed in a home where they are happy, feel support, and have the family life that some of them have never had before. The life lesson that I have gained from working in this field is that never take anything for granted and always be grateful for the people that you have in your life, sometimes you don’t realize the impact that you can have on someone’s life just by being there.
Bring a service provider to me means helping build positive relationships with the consumers we serve, their staff and team members, and the community. It means helping the people we serve reach their greatest potential and goals. It means advocating for the consumers we serve to have the fundamental rights that everyone else has. Being in the human service field for the last 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes for the better over the years for the consumers we serve. Generational perspectives have changed regarding acceptance, advocacy, community inclusion, and overall quality of life for the consumers we serve. During my journey in this field, I have seen a lot from working in an institutional style facility, establishing staff residences, group homes, being a behavioral technician, house manager, residential director(for over 30 houses), and program director(overseeing a residential program, ADT program, FHP program). There were a lot of good memories made, even through the difficult times. Human growth for the consumers we serve and contractors is what I remember most. I am a pretty laid back kind of guy but patience, listening, and promotion of the best version of myself daily are lessons I have gained on this journey that transcends into my everyday life.
August 15, 2019
10 Years and Counting!
By Alex Sholtz
Path Forward of KY was founded in January 2009 with the goal to provide effective and individualized services to people with disabilities. We began in Louisville with Supported Employment and then as the years passed we continued to add services and 3 new regions, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and the Bluegrass. 10 years on, we now offer Case Management, Behavior Supports, Personal Care, Community Living Supports, Respite Services, Community Access, Acquired Brain Injury Services, Family Home Providers, Ticket to Work and an even more thriving Supported Employment Service, in three Regions.
This decade of work has grown our great team of staff and contractors that embody our mission, vision and values. With a leadership team boasting of more than 75 years of experience in Human Services, and having Brittany lead us on our journey, we look forward to building even greater services and Regions for the exceptional people that we serve. When you get right down to it, it’s all because of rock solid teamwork. After all, that’s the PFK Way!
August 12, 2019
Denise Knight and Teresa Lonkard
Paulette has always been passionate about learning and about achieving her goals. When she learned about the College Connections program through Down Syndrome of Louisville with a partnership with JCTC, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. On May 23, 2019, after almost 3 years of hard work and determination, Paulette celebrated graduating college at Jefferson Community and Technical College. Paulette enjoyed taking part in classes including Life Skills, which she attended with several of her peers. She then chose a variety of integrated courses including African American Music History, Drawing, and History of Rock and Roll. She reported that she loved her music classes and learned a lot. After giving a speech during her ceremony about what graduating meant to her, she celebrated her accomplishment with her family home provider and her siblings. She said it was a “great day” and she was sure to let all of her friends know about her graduation. Paulette shared that her mother had always told her that she could graduate college and she wanted to complete the program for her mother. Paulette is excited to have her certificate of completion and to be a college graduate. She is ready to go out and change the world. Congratulations Paulette!
May 22, 2019
In this edition of our employee spotlight, we would like to introduce our two case managers: Teresa Lonkard and Breanna Burton. Teresa and Breanna focus on advocacy for each individual they work with and ensure teamwork and continuity of quality of care for everyone on their caseloads. Their passion for helping others shines through in their work every day, as they assist others to achieve their goals and dreams. Here is what their journey has meant to them in their own words:
My best friend, Sean, has a rare form of Cerebral Palsy wherein he is primarily wheelchair bound, but has no cognitive symptoms. We met in college and he now does computer security for a large insurance company. Throughout college and afterwards people would often assume I was his girlfriend or care provider and direct questions towards me. They were usually surprised when Sean responded or when they found out I was just a friend. Though being friends with him, and his twin brother, who has a mild intellectual disability, I learned a lot about a population I rarely interacted with and started seeing individuals as more than just their appearance. After about two years of being friends with Sean, I didn’t see or think about his disability. I once turned around to tell him to hurry up when I was going up some steps because I forgot he wasn’t able to follow me and had to wait for the elevator. He told me it was both hilarious and one of the biggest compliments he could ever receive.
I’ve been working in the human services field for almost 4 years (since June 2015). I started by working as a Mental Health technician at Our Lady of Peace. It could be a tough job, but without working there, I don’t think I would love or be as successful as a case manager. I love advocating for my clients, solving problems and finding ways to maximize services. It means a lot to me that I’m just one person, but can start a chain reaction of improvements in someone’s life.
Seeing a client, who developed anorexia, for the first time after he started receiving behavior supports, has been the most memorable moment I’ve had since being in their field. This client has recently been hospitalized due to how much weight he had lost. After working with his behaviorist for a few weeks, he was already began to change his habits. He looked much healthier, happier and said he felt better than he had in the past few months.
Through this line of work, I’ve learned to see what people are capable of, not just what they are currently doing. Since many clients struggle with effective communication I’ve become more observant of body language and am a better communicator. I always try to ensure I understand specifically what a client wants/thinks along with the rest of the team through re-phrasing statements and questions. This has also helped me in my everyday life, as I can often find a way to explain something in a way everyone can understand regardless of his or her level of functioning. I’ve also gained knowledge of the Medicaid and Social Security systems and benefits, which I’ve been able to utilize when I speak with my friends or family members who have disabilities or are unsure for what benefits they qualify. I’ve been able to assist individuals outside of work with locating information and providing resources/guidance concerning benefits.
To me, being a service provider is a big deal. It’s about meeting people’s needs and promoting overall quality of life for the people you work with. No matter what population you’re working with, being a service provider means devoting your days to helping people who need support. To be a service provider means you need to have passion and it should not be taken lightly. I’ve been working in the human service field for the past four years and it has been the most rewarding four years of my life.
I have so many favorite moments since being in the human service field but the most memorable would have to be when one of the consumers I was providing community living support services for texted me months after I stopped working with him to show me that he passed his drivers’ permit test. I had been working with him for a year and we spent a lot of time together studying for his drivers’ permit test. He took it a few times and kept failing by one or two points. When I saw that he finally passed, I was so happy for him and it warmed my heart knowing that he made it a point to share his good news with me although we hadn’t talked or seen one another in a few months.
Everyone’s life is different. Everyone has a story. Each person’s life events, from the day they were born to the age they are now, has shaped them into the person they are today. Show compassion and be intentional about your everyday interactions with others. You never know how much impact you can make on someone’s life.
January 23, 2019
In 2008, the face of the global economy changed forever. America was in the height of the 2008 Recession. Investment banks, the secondary credit market, and an unregulated financial market disappeared. The housing market collapsed. Central banks around the world propped up the financial system. In September of that year, America came very close to total economic collapse. New inventions still made a difference! 2008 saw a camera for the blind, electric cars, instant replay for baseball, No Country for Old Men won Critic’s Choice Best Film and Alex Sholtz and Jim Bratcher rolled up their sleeves and started the work to establish the very successful Path Forward of Kentucky!
The first service to be offered by PFK was Supported Employment. This service assists consumers in navigating the State’s Vocational Rehabilitation program and puts them on a path of employment, out in their communities, by providing job coaches. Today, the coaches guide consumers thru the entire employment process, from resumes to interviewing and finally on-the-job support for over 94 job placements in 2018.
Case Management services followed Supported Employment and today works with 34 consumers to put together a full menu of waiver services. Community Living Supports, Personal Care and Respite services were then added and exponentially grew the company, by hiring and training Direct Support Professionals throughout the Louisville Metro Region. These services help consumers become as independent as possible, in all aspects of their life, as well as provide their guardians with essential breaks from 24/7 care.
Acquired Brain Injury Waivers joined the list not long after, followed by residential services in the form of Family Home Providers. By 2012, Path Forward of KY had grown around Kentucky to include Supported Employment services in the Bowling Green Region and created the Bluegrass Region, serving 10 counties in central KY for both Michelle P and Supports for Community Living waiver services.
After getting the company up and running, like a well-oiled machine, the Executive Director position was handed down in 2013 from Alex to Brittany Knoth, our current ED. Brittany has led the way in professional development and team building while establishing the name of Path Forward as a respected leader in the field of Medicaid Services. In 2018, Brittany was honored by being selected to serve on the Centralized Quality Management Advisory Subpanel for the Medicaid Waivers Redesign. Today, Brittany excels in both management style and substance, leading growth and rock solid teamwork!
Over this past decade, PFK has grown to be financially sound by using a common sense approach while keeping quality and compassion top of mind. As chief motivator, Jim Bratcher, likes to say, “The main thing is and always will be the main thing at PFK; the folks we serve. That will always be our focus!”
Touching the lives of more than 200 consumers and guardians, closing in on half a million hours of service, PFK has a well-earned reputation of fine service driven by teamwork. We can’t wait to see what the next decade holds in store for us.