50 Years at Foothills Gateway: Employee Perspectives
November 02, 2022
The strength and beauty of Foothills Gateway lies in the incredible group of employees who make up the organization, many of whom have been with us for decades. The longevity of our staff is a source of pride, and points to a workplace that provides many benefits. As we near the end of our 50th year, several of our staff share what Foothills Gateway means to them, both professionally and personally.
Sheila Reinhart, Adult Care Services (6 years at Foothills Gateway)
I started at Foothills Gateway after meeting my now-husband and his children. My stepson has Down Syndrome and, after meeting him, I felt the calling to do work with people with disabilities. FGI has not only allowed me to grow and thrive doing this work, but it has helped me navigate and better understand the rules, regulations, challenges, joys, and everything else that goes along with supporting someone with disabilities. Most importantly, it has helped me feel supported and that I am not alone in the struggles. I have met some truly AMAZING people working at FGI, including both staff and individuals. I feel so fortunate!
Kathy Hingtgen, Supported Living Services Direct (18 years at Foothills Gateway)
FGI has so positively impacted my life, with thanks to the SLS individuals that I serve. They possess the superpower to teach me something new each and every day. We laugh together and we cry together. I am most proud of the superpower that my individuals have vested in me. Finding a way support them in understanding anything that is confusing, from a medical appointment to world news, is a learning experience for us all. Thank you, FGI, for 18.5 amazing years.
Linda Brooks, Adult Care Services (19 years at Foothills Gateway)
As the parent of an amazing young lady who has Down Syndrome, I really understand how important having quality resources and supports is for the individuals and their families we serve at FGI. Being an employee here has given me the opportunity to be a small part of providing those resources and has given me a unique perspective of seeing the work we do from both the professional and personal side. I will always cherish that. The services provided by FGI are more important than most people realize, and I get to help share that with others every day.
Rachel Souders, Intake Case Management (20 years at Foothills Gateway)
I love seeing people grow as humans and hearing stories about their successes with all aspects of life (employment, lifelong learning, passions, community involvement, etc.) and knowing that, sometimes, I was a small part of making a piece of that happen. I love laughing and sharing joy with families and people receiving supports, especially when unexpected perspectives are discovered, shared, and appreciated. FGI introduced me to all things relating to people with I/DD; collaboration with others, community, and appreciating Neurodiversity.
Laura Sidener, Early Intervention (21 years at Foothills Gateway)
The most meaningful part of being an employee of FGI are the relationships we are able to build with those in services, and the families we serve.
Jackie O’Riordan-Leal, PSCS (31 years at Foothills Gateway)
I feel very grateful for the opportunity to be part of Foothills Gateway. When Judy Tomcak hired me in 1991, I was a little uncertain as I had worked in mental health programs but not with people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Judy said, “Just give me six weeks and try it out.” Here I am, 31 years have gone by and boy oh boy, have I learned a thing or two! I have seen such changes in the way we deliver services and the ways we advocate for people, and it really makes me proud. The individuals in services are some of the most special people in the world. They are amazing and resilient and strong, much stronger than we give them credit for. I have learned many things from them and the pandemic, while an incredibly scary event, has also given me a new respect for them. They have handled one change after another and continued to carry on. In fact, much less stressed out than I was! Thanks to Foothills Gateway for the continued commitment to ensuring quality advocacy services and supports are in place.
Diane Bocanegra, DCSS (32 years at Foothills Gateway)
FGI makes you feel like family here. FGI really cares about staff and the people we serve. I have seen a lot of turnover through the years, from the agency growing to changes in management. We all have good days and bad days, but it’s a great place to work and working here feels like home.
Renee’ Walker, HUD/Section 8 (37 years at Foothills Gateway)
The most meaningful part of being an employee of FGI is the ability to help individuals have a decent, safe living environment that they can afford. Housing is the foundation of stability and security, allowing individuals to move forward in their lives in other areas such as employment or education. I had a housing voucher when my daughter was a toddler in the early 80’s. This allowed me to go to college and get a degree that eventually led me to Foothills Gateway 37 years ago! I love what I am doing because I want to pay back the gift I was given so long ago.
Judy Tomcak, Residential Services (39 years at Foothills Gateway)
Being a part of FGI has given me the opportunity to experience stability, flexibility, and pride. Over the years, I have experienced a lot of change within our agency. Change is very difficult for me; however, our leadership has shown that change can happen effectively with planning, preparation, and support. I’ve learned to be a better leader, communicator, and mentor. I have had the opportunity to teach others with pride. Most importantly, the relationships I have been able to have with so many people in our services mean so much to me, and them. That’s the best part. I have memories with many people that I will cherish forever. I have also learned a much-needed lesson about work/life balance. It’s hard to take a step back, but when we can, we do a much better “me” for the people we support in all aspects of FGI.
Erin Eulenfeld, CEO (44 years at Foothills Gateway)
Everyone has challenges in their lives and, personally, FGI was there for me when my children needed case management and services. Having that lived experience heightens my awareness of FGI’s impact on the lives of others. I am proud that our mission, vision, and guiding principles guide our agency practices and all FGI does to support individuals, families, and staff. Our agency values quality and accuracy in all aspects of our business and has an ethical organizational culture. It means a lot that we all strive each and every day to do our best for everyone associated with the organization. FGI is just awesome!