Getting Acquainted

Now that Springwell and BayPath have merged, our opportunities to collaborate and build new working relationships within departments and teams are growing. To help us get to know each other beyond our individual work areas, we are taking some time to talk with employees across the organization in many roles and will be sharing these conversations with you in a new regular feature of our Personnel Committee Newsletter, Getting Acquainted. Getting Acquainted Profiles will remain on this hidden webpage, appearing chronologically, with the newest profiles appearing at the top of the list.

Today we are getting acquainted with Sue Roberts, Fiscal Manager based in the Marlborough office. Learn about Sue’s adventure traveling around the world.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have had a thirty-year career in accounting so far and have worked in many industries including real estate, technology, health care, and staffing agencies. I worked for many startup companies that ended up being bought out or merged with another entity. Three years ago, when I was looking for a new job, I wanted to work for an organization that had been around for a long time and that directly helped people. When I learned about Bay Path’s work supporting older adults, I was eager to join and am happy that I did.

What originally interested you in this work?

Growing up I loved math, numbers, and puzzles so accounting seemed like a natural fit. I think of accounting as a puzzle that is solved when all the numbers come out just right.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

Making sure I get accurate financial statements out on a timely basis is the most important part of my job. These reports provide key information that help us make the best decisions for the organization and the consumers.

What is your favorite part of your job?

After working here for three years, I like knowing what needs to be done each day and getting it done. I like the tasks and the routine of making sure everything is completed accurately and on time. I also enjoy the people—I like to keep things light and enjoy connecting with everyone.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

When I first heard about the merger, I felt a bit sad but now that we have merged, I am very excited about being a part of the larger entity. We were a small team before and it is nice to be part of a larger team. We never had a full-time CFO, only a part-time consultant. It is wonderful having Kara full time to make sure everything runs smoothly. In the transition it has been challenging to learn a new accounting system and new procedures but it is nice learning new things, so I like the challenge.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I have loved traveling since I spent a semester at sea during college literally traveling around the world. We started in British Columbia and three months later returned to Florida with stops along the route including Japan, India, and Malaysia just to name a few. After this trip, I drove across the United States with a friend and had another great adventure.  I have also enjoyed taking my children to places such as Canada, England and Wales. When I am at home, I like reading, baking, and doing crafty things. I have a Cricut machine and have fun designing images to etch on glass and print on t-shirts.

 

Today we are getting acquainted with Steve Wagner, Payroll Accountant based in the Waltham office, pictured here with his first grandchild, Haley and best furry friend, Murphy. Learn what industry Steve spent 35 years of his career in before joining Springwell.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have been working in human services for six years so far. I spent thirty-five years working in finance in the hotel industry and when I was looking for a new job, Springwell caught my eye. Just before I joined Springwell, I helped my parents with downsizing and that process heightened my awareness of the needs and concerns of older adults. When I learned about Springwell, I was impressed with the organization’s mission and thought it would be a good fit for me.

What originally interested you in this work?

I studied finance in school and have always liked working with numbers. At this stage of my career, I welcomed the opportunity to work in human services helping older adults.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

Processing payroll is the most important part of my job. Each employee needs to be paid the right amount on time every pay period. Accuracy and timeliness are essential. Providing prompt responses to staff members’ questions about vacation, deductions, or other topics is also important.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people and the numbers are my favorite parts of the job. Springwell is good at attracting and hiring wonderful people who truly care about others and I enjoy working with them. Payroll is one big math problem with only one right answer and I get satisfaction solving that problem each pay period.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

The expansion to go from serving eight towns to twenty-two communities is exciting. With nearly double the staff, getting everyone integrated into one payroll system has been challenging but I like the challenge. Employees in the Marlborough office were accustomed to a different payroll system so I have worked to answer their questions and get them comfortable on Checkwriters. Accuracy and timeliness remain an important theme.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

Before the pandemic, my wife and I enjoyed traveling but that has been curtailed in the past couple of years. I love spending time with my two grandchildren who live locally. My priorities are to stay active and enjoy nature—I do that by walking, biking, kayaking, and playing tennis.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

It is always my priority to provide timely responses to employee questions. If there is a delay it is usually due to my work schedule. I work shortened hours but it is my priority to get back to you as soon as possible.

Today we are getting acquainted with Jean Merkl, Accounting Manager based in the Waltham office. Learn what led Jean to a role in Finance after being a Care Advisor early in her career.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

After graduating from college with a degree in Sociology, one of my first jobs was as a Care Advisor with Worcester Elder Home Care. Later, I had another social service job in a homeless shelter. At one point, the person who took care of the bills there was out for a while and they asked me to do it. I quickly discovered that I liked this role and my work was having a positive impact on the organization. I pursued my interest, completed a course in medical billing to learn more, and then took some accounting classes at Bentley College. My career has been based in Finance ever since. I moved to Boston and had a contract for 6 years in budgeting with the Department of Transportation. I then met my husband, an accountant, and he suggested I start my own bookkeeping business. I did that for five years and then saw an ad for a role in Finance at Springwell. I understood what Springwell does from my work at Worcester Elder Home Care and liked the mission of serving seniors so I accepted the job offer and have been here 16 years so far.

What originally interested you in this work?

The opportunity to do billing when I worked at the homeless shelter sparked my interest in accounting and finance. I could see how important it was to keep the money coming in on a timely basis for the organization to function well.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

The most important element of my role is to help keep the Finance Department running smoothly. We must make sure the money keeps coming in or Springwell can’t do its work to take care of older adults. Another important part of my job is interacting with the auditors. Attention to detail keeps us in compliance with various requirements and helps the auditors complete their review of our organization.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is working on a team. The Finance and IT team is a strong group and together we accomplish a lot.  

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

It is exciting to have more people on the Finance team. I enjoy getting to know the people from the Marlborough office and working with them. Having more team members gives us more flexibility to help each other with work when needed. The biggest challenge right now is the distance between the two offices but we are figuring that out.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I like to walk and hike. During the pandemic, walking and hiking have been a great way to spend time. My husband and I have been trying to visit all the Massachusetts Audubon Society wildlife sanctuaries. There are more than 60 and hundreds of miles of trails.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I prefer phone calls instead of email. Calls help me get to know people better. Please call anytime.

Today we are getting acquainted with Amy Chaisson, who, in addition to being a great Nurse Manager, has a very cute dog!

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have been a nurse for almost 25 years.  I had been working in an acute-care hospital and was looking for a change.

What originally interested you in this work?

I wanted to have an opportunity to establish more of a relationship with the patients and their families; more than I had the chance to in a hospital setting.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

To have a positive attitude, be an active listener, and promote a Team mentality.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The collaboration that takes place with the many departments in the organization-one minute I could be discussing a clinical situation with a home care RN. The next minute I can be reviewingstaffing needs with HR.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

I’m most excited about learning another perspective and how a situation can be reviewed differently in ways not explored by the Marlborough office.  The most challenging thing has been the difference with the IT systems and using different platforms. I know the IT Departments are actively and tirelessly working on merging the systems. Soon, we will be one system and it will make things easier.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

Playing tennis.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I am a lucky person who has a great network of people that support me in whatever I do.

Today we are getting acquainted with Robin Logan, Home Care Nurse, based in the Marlborough office. Robin knew from a young age that being a spokesperson was important. She was often the spokesperson for her friends when they were getting into trouble for something they had done while growing up.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have worked in human services since I graduated from nursing school in 1993. My career has included roles in sub-acute care, long term care, hospice, and the ASAP network. As I planned for my future, I knew that there would always be a need for nurses. There is always a need for healthcare- it is part of living life.

What originally interested you in this work?

I knew that I wanted to advocate for people who misunderstand the way things work and for people who can’t speak for themselves. I noticed growing up that people often get quiet when they are questioned about things. Someone must speak up and I was often the one to do it – even for friends when we would get into trouble as kids. I wanted to soften the whole situation.  A spokesperson is a good advocate and I felt I could use these skills as a nurse. As an advocate, I like to educate people on how to help themselves.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

Digging as deep as I can to find out the actual needs of an individual. When I meet with an older adult and their family, the older adult sometimes doesn’t like to be open about the need for assistance. Family members may not be there enough to fully see the confusion or challenges with physical functioning that their loved one is experiencing. I speak up to ask the questions and have the conversations that let me know the reality of the situation. For example, I might ask how someone does a particular task to get a sense of what they can do. Once I understand the challenges they are facing, I can do more to help.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy my co-workers very much. We have a great team, and it is helpful to bounce ideas off each and seek advice from each other.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

I like meeting new people, so I am excited about getting to know my counterparts in the Waltham office. I look forward to getting their perspective on our work. The challenge is that we will all likely have to change the way we do some things and I hope we address it by talking about it and coming up with what works best for everyone.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I am all about family and I like spending time with my grandchildren. I also enjoy taking care of my plants, sewing, reading, and riding my bike for pleasure.

Today we are getting acquainted with Colleen Clinton, RN in Community Transitions based in the Waltham office. Learn why Colleen who describes herself as a “people person” enjoys visiting residents in nursing homes.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have been working in human services for over 30 years. I am a “people person” which for me means that I enjoy being social and interacting with people. As a nurse, I am always interacting with people, and I like contributing to improving their quality of life. I worked for two other Area Agencies on Aging prior to joining Springwell in 2015. Previously I also worked in patient care at Spaulding Hospital and with Life Plans doing long term care insurance planning. Working for the Area Agencies on Aging has been my favorite role. There is more time for the conversation that gets to the heart of what people need and want. Patient care in a hospital setting has a different kind of busyness because you are on tight schedules for dispensing medicines and other tasks that often doesn’t leave time for conversation.

What originally interested you in this work?

I enjoy each conversation with a person and appreciate learning about their life story. I felt as a nurse that careful listening would then give me the opportunity to best help them with their health challenges and improve their happiness.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

Educating people about what care options are available to them through the state is very important. Often, they are not aware of programs such as the Community Living Waiver and group homes. Group homes can be great alternatives to nursing homes for younger people especially because they can have more individualized care plans and get out in the community more. By making people aware of their options, I am giving them the information and tools to decide what is best for them.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is talking with residents in nursing homes. They are so excited to talk with someone. Often, in nursing homes one nurse might be caring for many residents so there isn’t time for much conversation. Residents appreciate having someone listen and it gives them hope that someone is working on a plan for them to return to the community.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

I am happy about the merger. We have a wonderful nurse manager. Amy has a happy personality and is always very flexible and helpful. I have already gotten acquainted with the other nurses, and they are all very nice. It is great having a bigger group working together. The challenge for me is adjusting to Microsoft Teams. I found the Intranet IN/OUT board simple to find out who was available and right now MS Teams feels “busy”

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I love to play pickleball. It is a great game on a small court and because you play doubles it is very interactive and social. It leads to lots of conversation and is a good way to meet nice people.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I have a sense of humor. I am always joking and enjoy being silly. This is helpful in my work.

Getting Acquainted with Jennifer Darby

Today we are getting acquainted with Jennifer Darby, Director of Community Services, based in the Waltham office. Learn about why Jennifer says she is “intentionally goofy.”

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

I have been working in human services since 1991. I think I have a face that people feel like they can talk to, and I have always liked helping people even in high school. Human services just seemed like a natural fit.

What originally interested you in this work?

As I mentioned, I have always liked helping people and started out working with involuntary inpatients in a psychiatric hospital. I thought that I would stay in psychiatric work but when that hospital closed, someone suggested I try working with the VNA (Visiting Nurse Association).  There I worked with older adults and never looked back. I worked in long term care, short term rehab and then joined Springwell.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

My role is to support the staff. I have done direct care work and I know that the work is hard. I strive to give them the level of support to manage the challenges of the job and help them develop. I always tell each person that if something concerns them, then it concerns the collective us. I want to be present and listen to fully understand what the problem is. From there, we can figure out what they need and how I can help.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the staff so much! I enjoy interacting with everyone and watching them develop. I am so proud of the departments and all they do to help older adults.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

When I first heard about the merger, I was immediately excited. I knew Joe Quirk from a previous role and appreciated his philosophy. I knew he and Trish would work well together and be thoughtful in all they did to create a strong larger organization. Springwell and BayPath have the same outlook and the same goals.  The challenge we are addressing is patiently reviewing how the Waltham office does things and how the Marlborough office does things to come up with one set of best practices for how we will all do things now.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I am a big fan of HGTV. I love the home renovations shows and think maybe I could be an interior decorator in another life. I decorate my own home seasonally or typically even monthly. I have also done some seasonal decorating for friends.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I am intentionally goofy to lighten the mood because the work is hard and stressful. The staff takes so much to heart and puts a lot of pressure on themselves. I think it is important to encourage a laugh or smile and let them know that whatever the challenge is, that it is going to be okay. I tell them we can fix it. I support and advocate for them to help them take some of the pressure off themselves. I have been here over ten years and have smiled every day I have worked for this agency. We work hard, uphold our mission and I try to make sure we have a good time while doing it. I hope that I can be inspirational to others.

Today we are getting acquainted with Jocelyn Trudeau, Home Care Program Manager, based in the Marlborough office. Jocelyn has been working in human services since she was fifteen years old!

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

Working in human services has been part of who I am since I  was fifteen. I attended a vocational high school and was a licensed CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). I passed the test and was fully certified, so they allowed me to get a work permit. At that time, you didn’t have to be eighteen. My first job was in a hospice home taking care of patients with HIV/AIDS. I then moved to the Department of Mental Health working in locked units/residential settings and later worked with the Department of Developmental Services before joining the ASAP network that included BayPath.

What originally interested you in this work?

My mom was ill when I was young and that was my first introduction to the world of caregiving. Later I learned about the elder population when I helped care for my grandfather. At that time, a common perception was that if you were ill, you went to a nursing home, and I saw the value of staying at home even when a high level of support is needed.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

I focus on staff and consumers in my role. I support staff by continually educating them and giving them the confidence to deal with the ever-changing challenges they face daily in assisting older adults. Every decision we make in our department trickles down to the older adults we care for so we must make each decision in a way that it is beneficial for them.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the interaction with the people I work with who are in all different roles. For example, I get to meet with nurses as part of care planning and I enjoy learning new things from the medical perspective. I also enjoy being part of the community by getting out on consumer visits and visiting the senior centers. I am glad their programs are slowly reopening as the pandemic gets more manageable.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

I am excited about the increase in resources and workforce. It provides the opportunity to better develop our department. The Waltham office has some different services than the Marlborough office and we can learn from them so that we can model similar offerings in the Marlborough office. Learning the different ways each office does something can feel challenging. We are addressing this by holding integration meetings where we discuss the how and why of how each office does something to come up with the best methods for all.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I have a 14-month-old son and enjoy doing anything with him. My husband and I love spending time showing him the world and appreciating it through his eyes.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I always want to connect with everyone. If I can help in some way, please call me. If I can’t talk at that moment, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

I always want to connect with everyone. If I can help in some way, please call me. If I can’t talk at that moment, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Today we are getting acquainted with Liz Stern, Case Management Program Manager, based in the Waltham office. Find out how volunteering and community involvement led Liz to a career in human services.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

During college, I had a summer job at a camp for kids with developmental disabilities. After college, my first job was at a group home in Brookline for ten adults who received support from the Department of Developmental Services. I liked that job a lot but after a while I wanted to have a role beyond direct care. I went back to graduate school for my MSW and then worked as a clinician with the Department of Youth Services. That position was hard because the youth had so many challenges that it often felt impossible to have positive outcomes. After 8 years, I made a change to work with older adults and found I valued helping those who had made many contributions to their communities throughout their lives and now needed a little assistance themselves.

What originally interested you in this work?

Throughout high school I was involved in the community and did a lot of volunteer work. I also had some part-time jobs during high school and my favorite part was customer service. I couldn’t see myself working for an organization whose main motivation was making a profit, so I began thinking about roles with non-profits where a job focused on community service.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

Our work can be busy and challenging. Everyone in the department works very hard and I think it is important that I be with everyone, acknowledge and appreciate them, and foster a positive tone when things are tough so that we continue moving forward together helping each other.

What is your favorite part of your job?

As a Case Management Program Manager, I love that I interact with everyone in the department. We support each other and learn from each other.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger, what is most challenging about the merger and how are you addressing the challenge?

It gives us an opportunity to look at how we are doing things and compare with the staff in the Marlborough office about how they do things. I think we will all benefit by comparing processes and bringing together the best from both worlds. There are many processes to evaluate which takes time. I address the challenge by breaking each topic down into small pieces and move forward with each piece one by one so that it is not overwhelming.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I love being outside walking or hiking and I recently started weightlifting which is fun.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

When I meet new people, I enjoy sharing that I have a twin sister, Melissa. We are very close with each other, and with our younger sister and older brother. We don’t live in the same state but try to get together at least a couple of times a year. This past spring, we got together in Florida to celebrate Melissa and my birthday.

 

We first introduce you to Trish Smith, CEO of Springwell and share a bit about how Trish has turned opportunities into career building experiences and why she hopes you will stop by in person or virtually to say hello to her.

How long have you been working in human services/how did you get into the field?

My work in human services began by chance and grew as I decided to take advantage of opportunities that were presented to me. When I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and education, there were no teaching positions available due to supply exceeding demand. Instead, I accepted a job as an assistant to an education professor and in that role had the opportunity to take graduate courses. After taking some courses in counseling, I decided to transfer and enrolled in a full-time program where I obtained my master’s degree in counseling and human services. My internships consisted of working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors of all ages, as well as individuals with disabilities in a supportive employment program. These experiences provided me with a solid foundation to begin my career in the ASAP network.

Having grown up and attended college in upstate New York, I was ready for a change after graduate school and decided to move to Boston with my best friend. I immediately got a job as a Protective Services worker at an ASAP and began learning about the vast array of services available to older adults in Massachusetts. I spent 8 years working in the Protective Services program as a PSW, PSS and finally Regional Coordinator. When the state changed its structure and eliminated the Regional Coordinator position, I decided to move back to New York to be closer to my family including my aging grandparents. I took a position as a contractor for New York State Department of Health working on the development of a new Medicaid waiver that would allow older adults and individuals with disabilities to receive services in the community instead of a nursing facility. Ironically, while in New York, I met my now husband who lived in Massachusetts. In 2010, I moved back to Massachusetts and joined Springwell as the first full time Quality Manager. That role led me to becoming COO at Springwell in 2013 and CEO in 2019.

What originally interested you in this work?

I really enjoyed my internships working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, and knew it was important to me to help individuals who are in difficult situations. While I joined the ASAP network because of the Protective Services Program, it was in that first position where I learned about all the services available to assist older adults. I was impressed with how Massachusetts is different from other states in that it is dedicated to prioritizing the needs of older adults and became enthusiastic about furthering my career in the ASAP network.

What do you see as the most important elements of your role?

As CEO, I have a diverse set of responsibilities making sure we meet standards, are following various regulations and that we always work in an ethical manner for the well-being of older adults. While these are clearly vital, it is equally important that I make sure that staff have the resources and tools they need to do their job of supporting our consumers.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I absolutely love to see people grow, learn, and develop in their careers. It makes me so happy to see staff thrive as they take on new roles and challenges.

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone who is facing challenges of aging?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! We are all aging, and we don’t know what it is going to be like as we move through the stages of growing older. The aging process is different for everyone, and everyone has unique needs. One 75-year-old may have very different needs from another 75-year-old. I always encourage people to ask questions and learn about resources before they are needed. It is always more difficult if you wait until there is a crisis before making a plan or having important conversations about care.

What are you most excited about regarding the merger?

I am excited to be able to offer more programs to more people in twenty-two communities because we have more resources available. We have a wider area to recruit volunteers and to provide volunteers to help older adults. We now have an LGBTQIA+ Initiative Coordinator as a resource. We have already achieved some economies of scale at the executive level which allows us to look at how to use those resources in a different manner. Further, with more staff we will have the flexibility to respond to opportunities that come up as well as lessen the impact on others when a vacancy exists.

What is most challenging for you about the merger and how will you address the challenge?

With the growth from the merger and the ongoing safety challenges of COVID, I don’t know many staff members as well as I would like to. While we benefit from more resources with the merger, the growth in size makes it harder to connect with individuals. Part of the way I hope to address this challenge is by meeting with small groups and teams to get to know them and hear what they need. It is important to me that even with the growth, we maintain that personal touch of a small organization.

What is one thing you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

I love to travel and explore new places. While COVID has slowed down my travel, my goal is to visit all 50 states. I equally love cities and rural exploring. My travels have included some significant road trips including one to Montana with my brother. The last big trip I took pre-COVID started in Kansas City, Missouri and was followed by a week traveling through Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. While most people I spoke with couldn’t understand why I wanted to spend my vacation in the Midwest, it was a fantastic experience where I met wonderful people and saw some really beautiful parts of our country.

For those at Springwell/BayPath who don’t know you, what is one thing you would like them to know about you?

It is very important to me to know all my colleagues in the organization. I have an open-door policy and truly welcome people to stop by and see me whether it is just to say hello or ask a question that is on your mind. If my door is open, I welcome you to pop in and if my door is closed because I am in a meeting, please call or email so we can connect.