This is the sixth in a series of stories about a day in the life of a staff member at Ranch Ehrlo. 

Courtney Zinkhan says her life experience helps her to be successful in her job. 

Courtney has worked at Ranch Ehrlo in a variety of positions, most recently as a personal support worker in the agency’s Supported Living Programs (SLP). 

Before she came to the Ranch, Courtney worked in the food service industry for 19 years. She had to supplement her income with two to three other jobs. 

She is able to work at the Ranch without having to work other jobs. 

“I used to be working all the time,” she explained. “I make a living wage at the Ranch, so I don’t need to work multiple jobs to get by. The benefits are also very good here.” 

The mother of two usually works night shifts at Maple Tree House, but she also works some evening shifts. The SLP program supports persons with differing abilities by providing group living, educational, and vocational services. 

When she works nights, she does the regular nightly cleaning after packing the participants’ lunches and likes making breakfast for the participants when they wake up. 

“I have enjoyed building good relationships with our participants. They wake up extra early when they know I’m here so we can have time to talk and hang out after I make them breakfast. They enjoy filling me in on everything that happened on my days off,” she smiled. 

Some of these participants have been through some experiences that make them not trust people.  

She said when she builds relationships with them and shows them that they can trust her, she sees a completely different side to them. She feels like she has a purpose, and she is making a difference. 

“I feel like when I get that bond with a participant and they feel like someone is looking out for them, and their voice is being heard, it gives them something they wanted for a long time and just didn't know. It helps them grow and helps me grow, and it makes the job unbelievably rewarding,” she said.  

The participants at Maple Tree House range in age from 16 to 32 years old. There are some participants on the autism spectrum while some are living with brain injuries or other differing abilities. The biggest priority, Courtney explained, is sticking to a routine. 

She has a 19-year-old daughter who is living with autism, so she is used to living by routines. 

As she looks into the future, Courtney would like to use her natural leadership skills and become a personal support leader someday.  

To see how you can build a successful career at the Ranch like Courtney, visit our careers page

Read the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth stories in the series.