Ashley Taylor, MS alumna, awarded 2010 D. Timothy Estes Award

Ashley Taylor, 2001 alumna of Murray State University, was recently awarded the annual 2010 D. Timothy Estes Award for imagination and innovation for her work at Easter Seals West Kentucky.

In order to be nominated for the award, the candidate must demonstrate that they believe all individuals, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, should have opportunities to work in jobs they choose in the community, to live interdependently in their hometowns, and to worship with believers who have the same faith.

Taylor began working for Easter Seals West Kentucky in May of 2001. The organization represents nearly half a century of helping people with physical and cognitive impairments to gain greater independence by providing quality services. Easter Seals West Kentucky serves 19 counties in western Kentucky, plus areas in southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri.

Lisa Carrico, Employment Connections Program Manager said, “Ashley has a commitment to assist people to lead more fulfilling lives. She is an employment specialist but has meant much more to many of the people she works with.”

Taylor said she was both grateful and honored to have received such a prestigious award and it wouldn’t have been possible without the education and experiences she had while at Murray State.

Taylor said her Social Work classes helped with interviewing skills, social interaction, individualized planning, and in the community training. Her education within the American Humanics department also helped to show her a variety of non-profit organizations and the needs they had.

“With both of these departments I learned on the job training and the importance of treating each individual we work with, with the respect and dignity you would want,” Taylor said. “I also learned to never assume what persons wants or needs. Always advocate for what the client wants.”

Taylor currently serves as recruitment membership advisor for Sigma Sigma Sigma and said as an undergraduate, the social sorority taught her many important things she still uses in her career today.

“Through Tri Sigma I learned the importance of time management, social interaction , inclusion, and diversity,” Taylor said. “I found that everyone has skills to bring to an organization and that we are each very unique in our own way. All of these things are used in my everyday work and life now.”

Taylor said the part she loves most about her career is being able to help people achieve their work goals and become more independent.

“I love that each day I get to have variety in my work,” Taylor said. “Some days are better than others as each person’s jobs are. However, to see the look on a person’s face their first day of work, or when they get employee of the month and know that you had a hand in making that happen is one of the most amazing things. It is also wonderful to see that you are educating the community as well, to watch coworkers, bosses, and the community realize the value of individuals I work with is one of my most favorite things.”

Taylor said she is most honored to know that she has helped individuals to achieve their dreams.

“I think sometimes I forget that I’m not just getting someone a job but helping them achieve a dream and a milestone in their life,” Taylor said. “When reading the nomination letters I was shocked and humbled to see how much I had changed the lives around me.”

Taylor was nominated for this award by her boss, a client she helped find a job and the business the client worked for.

“I believe anyone can work successfully with the right support system,” Taylor said. “When you take the time to find out what each individual will need you will find a dedicated, quality employee!”

George Kennedy, Vice President of Adult Services for Easter Seals West Kentucky, said Ashley has been a consistent and positive influence on the people she works with staff, management and the people they serve.

“For ten years she has maintained her professionalism and passion for this job she continues to work hard for the people in the Employment Connections program,” Kennedy said.

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