barry markleWhat is your job at SNAP? I am the administrative assistant to Linda Petrie, coordinator of theEastern Washington Long Term Care Ombudsman program. Linda is regional ombudsman for the five-county area composed of Spokane, Whitman, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties. Our program advocates for the rights of residents of long-term care facilities, and monitors state oversight agencies. We also monitor and comment on proposed state laws and regulations related to long-term care. A large part of this work is performed by a dedicated corps of about 40 volunteers, trained and certified as volunteer LTC Ombudsmen. These volunteers cover 17 of 27 nursing homes, 30 of 70 boarding homes and about 30 of the nearly 200 adult family homes in the region and, last year, accounted for over 2,500 visits and around 5,000 hours of service. I am the first contact for many of our callers and, if the call is a complaint issue, I do intake, contacting the referenced facility’s Ombudsman, giving a general description of the problem and the phone number of the complainant. I also provide consumer information and referrals, and perform data entry and routine office duties. Providing volunteer support is also a major part of my daily activity. It is uniquely challenging but genuinely rewarding work. How long have you been part of the SNAP team? I first came to SNAP as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working with Property Management as a marketing specialist. I spent three full VISTA terms with that program and, then, went on to being SNAP’s VISTA leader for volunteers serving in the local programs which Dan Jordan coordinated. In total, I completed five years of national volunteer service with SNAP. Shortly after the conclusion of my VISTA experiences, I saw a notice for my current position and applied. I very much wanted to be associated with SNAP and a part of the Ombudsman program. The thought of working with volunteers again was exciting. This past March, I completed five years of service with the Ombudsman program, for a total of 10 years working with, and for, SNAP. It’s been a wonderful, remarkably gratifying experience and one I hope to continue. What did you do before SNAP? Since moving from the Midwest to Spokane in the late 1960s, I’ve been an avocational musician, worked in public TV, gone back to the Midwest and worked more public TV and some AM/FM radio as both an engineer and occasional DJ/newscaster, played guitar in a local “Chicago-style” horn band, enjoying the music, the people and the moment. Returning to Spokane, after a series of varied technical/electronic positions, I became increasingly disenchanted with what I had begun to see as an “I’ve got mine” career environment and started considering possible options that would allow me to return some value to the community. What is the most rewarding part of your job? I need to split that into two parts. First, the administrative part of the work: Linda is a great boss and terrific resource for SNAP and the Ombudsman program. Her experiences with both, through the years, have made her not only an extremely knowledgeable mentor but a great boss, too. Working with the volunteers is a real pleasure because of their dedication to the work; when they commit to a facility, they try to get to know all the residents and will do all they’re able to to resolve resident problems that may arise. Working with them increases my awareness of how important the Ombudsman program is to the residents we serve and to the larger community, as well. More importantly, each day, my work puts me ‘in touch’ with, and reinforces the essence of SNAP’s mission, vision and, especially, values: Community: We believe that nurturing client-focused partnerships builds community. Respect: We believe in recognizing the dignity and inherent worth of all individuals. Justice: We believe in advocating for what is fair, honorable and equitable. I am finally doing something that addresses my ambition to be a ‘giver’ rather than a ‘taker.’ SNAP helped me move from ‘wishing’ to ‘doing’ and I’m sincerely appreciative of that opportunity. Originally published: 10.17.13