Date: October 17, 2009
About: Nancy Shoemaker Brinkman - Class of 1966
Working Women: Nancy Brinkman
Nancy Brinkman left a job in a supermarket for a career in the field of aging, for which she has found a passion.
"It was really, really tough for me" to leave, Brinkman recalls. But a friend reminded her that when one door closes, another opens.
"This door into the aging network opened for me and it has been the most wonderful experience ... I absolutely love it," she said. "If you can't be happy in what you're doing, then life is just going to pass you by. I'm 62 years old. I don't have time for life to pass me by."
Brinkman is agency director for Addus HealthCare Inc., a home health care agency, where her mandate is to operate the five-county branch office as though it were here own business. She has won awards for staying within budget, while she oversees schedulers, billing and payroll personnel, and family service specialists.
Every job has it challenges, and right now the state's finances make her work more difficult.
"We have to be more focused ... and make our voices heard," she said. "We are strong advocates for senior citizens."
Working with seniors "you don't get rich at it. It's definitely a passion you feel for the job you do ... I do love it. It's the sense of accomplishment I have for my job."
Describe a typical day in your job.
There are no such things as typical days in home care. Each and every day is exciting and challenging. This is why I love my job. I arrive between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. at my office at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center. I make coffee and check e-mails (and) check the calendar for the day. From there, every day is different.
What is the best and worst thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is knowing how many people we help each and every day with our services. Whether it is in home care, veterans care or family service care, we are there for our clients.
The worst thing about my job is the uncertainty about state funding. Our clients depend on us to provide services that enable them to remain in their homes, living independently. When they hear about possible cuts in service they become very upset and worried. Addus Healthcare Inc. works tirelessly with our state legislators to ensure our senior services are held as harmless as possible.
Do you have a certain work ethic or motto that you follow?
I guess I live by two mottos: "There but for the Grace of God go I," remembering that I am very fortunate with a loving family, a job I love and for a 62-year-old person who has worked hard all her life, I am in pretty good health. My second comes from a fellow agency director: "If you pick a job you like you will never work a day in your life." I not only like my job, I love it, so I guess I do not work.
To what do you attribute your success?
I am not sure I have or will ever reach success, I work at it every day. There are still seniors and children that need food, basic shelter and a better way of life. My life is good; I do work hard at trying to be a good wife, mother, grandmother, friend and boss. If others consider me successful, thank you, I will try to live up to your expectation.
Have you had any mentors or a support system to get you where you are today?
I had and have a wonderful support system in my life -- my father, Albert Shoemaker, taught all of his daughters that hard work never hurt anyone. He showed this everyday by his example. Cheryl Wright, the lady who hired me for this position, has been an invaluable mentor to me as agency director. There is also Marcia Cray, who worked for me part time at another job where I was manager. Marcia and I not only became good friends but more than once she has helped me think and reason through a tough decision. And the most important support I have had for the last 40 years is my husband, Greg. He is always supportive, willing to help me reason things out, telling me I am wrong when I am and needing to be told I am.
What do you like to do to unwind?
Unwinding for me is not easy but spending time with Isabella and her puppy, Butterscotch, is great fun. Going to a wine tasting, cooking a good meal for family and friends, or traveling with Greg and or our friends of many years, Marcia and Howard Cray, does the trick for me.
What is the most important advice you could give someone considering your profession?
If you are considering working in the aging field, just do it. The rewards are great. Going home in the evening knowing that you have made a difference in the lives of people who worked hard all their lives to raise a family, to contribute to a community that is stronger and better for them having been a part of it, helping seniors remain in a home maintaining their independence, is in itself a reward. What a great feeling knowing that I am part of this.
NAME: Nancy Brinkman
JOB: Agency director of Addus HealthCare Inc. since 2004
EDUCATION: Graduated Quincy Senior High School, Gem City Business College
FAMILY: Husband, Greg, celebrated 40th anniversary in June 2009; son Brian and his wife, Janette (Baucom); son Cory and fianc & eacute;e, Alison Crawley; granddaughter Isabella, 6, future stepgranddaughter; Lauren Crawley, 15