2023 Gochnauer Award Winner

This award honors the legacy of Mahlon Gochnauer, a founding Board Member, who served on the Friendship Community’s Board for over 20 years. Mahlon and his wife, Doris, had a son with disabilities, named Michael.

Nominees for the Gochnauer award must serve as a Direct Support Professional, who exemplifies and encourages spiritual growth, advocates for community inclusion, and enables Individuals to Impact the World with Their Capabilities.

The Gochnauer Award for the Direct Support Professional (DSP) of the Year goes to Jillian Olszewski.  Jillian is reliable, motivated, a problem solver, compassionate, and empathetic. She began her career as a part time DSP at one of our Ephrata homes and soon accepted the role of Manager Assistant.  Although she excelled in this position, after a few months, she realized that in this role, she missed the interactions with the Individuals she had had before. She stepped down to become a full time DSP and she shines in that role just as she did as Manager Assistant.

Jillian is compassionate and empathetic and has a strong desire to meet the Individuals needs and to help them achieve their goals at home as well as in the community.  Recently one of the Individuals decided that she no longer cared to attend the current church. Jillian helped, not only this Individual, but all of them find a new church to their liking. Jillian involves the Individuals in decision making, whether it is on a community outing or an at home activity. One of her many talents is styling hair, painting fingernails and applying make-up. The ladies love the extra pampering, and she makes them feel special.

Jillian always has an ear to lend when one of the ladies is feeling down or just needs to talk. She selflessly gives of her time and goes the extra mile for the benefit of the Individuals. This is evident by the big smiles and happy dispositions. The Ephrata home is truly blessed to have Jillian as a Team Member.

This award was presented on January 22, 2024, by Sherri Colton, Director of Advancement, during Activity Night. Jillian was cheered by the many Individuals and Team Members in attendance – especially the three ladies that she directly supports every day!

Congratulations to Jillian for receiving the 2023 Gochnauer Award!

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