Ashley Mills first joined the Hattie Larlham family in the summer of 2015. Ashley came to us as a job-seeker looking to prepare for community employment by participating in the work training program for adults with disabilities at Hattie's Doggie Day Care and Boarding. During her time spent with us as a trainee, Ashley thrived. With help from her job coaches, Ashley learned the ins and outs of her job responsibilities and progressively took on new opportunities to demonstrate her abilities. "She was a superstar," said Gina Sullivan, Supervisor at Hattie's Doggie Day Care. "One of Ashley's strengths is her laid back personality. She can stay calm when chaos breaks out, which is important at a Doggie Day Care. She gets along with co-workers and is excellent at giving directions. Ashley knows her job responsibilities inside and out."
"One of Ashely's strengths is her laid back personality. She can stay calm when chaos breaks out, which is important at a Doggie Day Care.
Years of training prepared Ashley to take a step that at one time would have been too intimidating to imagine: she applied for a typical job at Hattie's Doggie Day Care to work as a job coach and help trainees gain the skills she had mastered. "I am so proud of Ashley because this is the first trainee that Hattie's Doggie Daycare has ever hired," shared Gina. "She is setting a precedent for her co-workers. Ashley has demonstrated to her peers that hard work pays off and they, too, can be a job coach. She has shown them anything is possible."
Ashley said that one thing she is most proud of is overcoming her shyness. Her timid nature had been an obstacle for her when she first joined the training program and she struggled to confidently engage with customers and peers. Slowly, Ashley gained confidence in herself and her abilities and became more social and outgoing. Now, she's proud to say that she speaks with customers with ease and even handles phone calls with a calm and friendly attitude. She admits that the transition from trainee to job coach has had its challenges- the people who were once her peers are now expected to take her directions- but that she's earned trust by leading with compassion.
When we asked Ashley what she enjoys doing outside of work, she was quick to reply that her duties as a mother keep her quite busy. Ashley is the proud mother of a four-year-old boy and was excited to share that she's currently exploring preschool options for him.
In the spring of 2023, Ashley was honored with the Carlene Weaver Achievement Award, presented by Summit DD at their annual Appreciation Breakfast and Awards Celebration during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. From Summit DD, this award "honors an individual with developmental disabilities whose actions or self-advocacy help change perceptions or bring about positive awareness for those with developmental disabilities in their community."
Ashley's success is just one of many stories of tenacity and triumph that come from the employment services programs at Hattie Larlham. We are proud of all that Ashley has accomplished and can't wait to see her continue to thrive at work.