2017 Team Member of the Year:
“Our daughter was born developmentally delayed and on the autism spectrum,” said Nancy Ashmore. “Those are her disabilities, but her abilities are that she can take direction very well, and she gives every task 100 percent.”
During high school, Allison Ashmore volunteered at the Salve University Library in Newport, Rhode Island, because she had always loved books. But she discovered she’d rather be around people and more active at a full-time job. Even then, she was curious about working at the food galley at Naval Station Newport, where her father was stationed as a Naval officer.
Following high school, Allison was enrolled at a disability workshop where she helped out in the kitchen, but despite her work there, people in the program didn’t think she could handle the hectic, noisy environment of the food galley at the Naval Station. When Allison persisted, the disability workshop team decided to give it a try. That was in 1995, and Allison’s been there ever since.
“With the right kind of support, Allison can do a lot of things,” her mom said. Fast-forward 23 years to now and Mrs. Ashmore said, “Organizations like GCE working under the AbilityOne® program are very valuable to people with disabilities. Allison’s experience has been life-changing.”
For instance, she’s learned to keep a schedule. A community transport van takes Allison to work each day, and a taxi brings her home. She’s learned to check the arrival times on her tablet, and if the transporter is late, she calls and says, “Where are you?”
According to Allison, the job has taught her many skills: customer service, organization, using a nice voice in a pleasant way and always being courteous and respectful to customers and coworkers. “I’ve learned that if I have some help, I can do things that other people didn’t think I could do.” One of her favorite things about her job is wearing the uniform – badge and all.
The GCE role also has come with challenges that have helped Allison develop. GCE took over the contract in 2009, which meant new bosses.
“I was nervous, but now it’s like I’ve always been working for them,” she said. “I can go to my supervisors for any questions.” One reason for her confidence and job satisfaction is that her leaders compliment her work. “They say I do really well. They depend on my good work.”
Another change was that two galleys were condensed into one.
“It was different because Patrick Hall (the first galley) was smaller, and now Ney Hall is much larger,” Allison said. That means more customers and more meals. Allison replenishes the salad bar, condiments, food station and fruit baskets. She also makes fresh coffee and makes sure plenty of creamer, sugar, tea bags and cocoa are available for the military service members.
“Allison cleans for inspection teams and is a great deep cleaner,” said Rodney Novak, GCE’s project manager. “She’s consistently a hard worker. You have to ask her to take a break.”
In her off time, Allison enjoys coloring. “I color pictures for my coworkers, but I make sure that Mary Lou gets most of them because she’s a good supervisor, and I think a lot of her, but I like all of my bosses and customers and coworkers,” she said. She also enjoys watching Disney Princess movies and reading books to her nieces and nephews. Her favorite book is “The Little Mermaid.”
When asked what the Employee of the Year award means to her, Allison said, “It’s like being Employee of the Month, but way better!” Allison has achieved a lot over the past 23 years, but more than anything, she’s improved her life journey.
“Our daughter went from someone dependent on government funding, through programs like Medicaid and Social Security Income (SSI), to someone who pays into Social Security and has her own medical benefits,” said Mrs. Ashmore. “Allison will draw her very own Social Security benefits when she retires.”
Mrs. Ashmore went on to explain that a lot of workshops are being closed in communities, and she looks forward to advocating alongside the GCE team at Capitol Hill.
“Allison loves her job,” Mrs. Ashmore said. “She wanted an opportunity to choose her own vocation just like everyone else. Her work has brought her so much pride and satisfaction, and just as importantly, has given her a financial independence that we never dreamed possible. Her job at GCE has changed not only her life, but ours as well!”