Ashley Dobberke is one year away from finishing her master’s degree in social work. As part of her program, she has been interning at the Frazer Center, working alongside Marissa Klipp, Assistant Director of Adult Programs.
Ashley had never worked with people with disabilities before, but according to Marissa, “You would never have known by the way she jumped right in and immediately seemed comfortable.” Ashley says her clean slate allowed her to “take a learner’s stance. I tried to come in with no assumptions or expectations.” She discovered how “loving and friendly everyone is. I didn’t expect everyone to be interested in who I am, but I’ve made a lot of good connections” with the participants. Also, “They’re hilarious!”
Marissa says, “Ashley has helped our program in so many ways.” One project she has taken on during her internship is the creation of a community resource guide. She has worked with the staff to compile information about places around Atlanta that the adults in our program might want to experience. These are “person-centered” opportunities to make community connections, meaning the participants choose for themselves the experiences they would like to have.
Ashley has also been involved with our self-advocacy team, helping the group plan regular meetings to discuss policies that affect their lives, and mentoring participants to lead the team meetings. She also helped Marissa coordinate and launch our first Caregiver Connect meeting, where parents and caregivers of people with disabilities can come together to share support, wisdom, and resources with each other.
Ashley’s background is in elementary education, and she currently works with a nonprofit in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. The Andrew P. Stewart Center is focused on community development, and Ashley is a program director overseeing after-school education and wellness programs.
It was while working with the Pittsburgh community that Ashley decided to go into social work. She is especially interested in finding ways to “support families and empower them to reach their full potential.” Working at Frazer has provided “another lens to look at a situation that I wouldn’t have thought of previously.” One thing that really came home to her during her time at Frazer is the importance of inclusion and the right to a choice-filled life for all individuals, with and without disabilities.
Marissa says, “Ashley will be missed greatly when her internship ends!” We are confident she will have a positive impact no matter the community she’s in.