Portsmouth woman named ‘Employee of the Year’

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Global Connections to Employment (GCE) has selected Allison Ashmore of Portsmouth as the 2017 “Employee of the Year” from a pool of approximately 1,700 employees from locations across the nation.

The GCE corporate offices are located in Pensacola, Florida, but the agency manages work contract sites in 12 states and the District of Columbia providing jobs to people with disabilities.

Ashmore works at Naval Station Newport as a food services worker.

According to GCE, Ashmore gives every task 100 percent. At a young age, she was curious about working at the food galley at Naval Station Newport where her father was stationed as a Naval officer.

Following high school, she was enrolled at a disability workshop where she helped out in the kitchen.

Despite her good work there, people in the program didn’t think she could handle the hectic, noisy environment of the food galley at the Navy Base. When she persisted, they decided to give it a try. That was in 1995, and Ashmore has been there ever since.

“Our daughter was born developmentally delayed and on the autism spectrum,” said Nancy Ashmore. “Those are her disabilities, but her abilities are that she can take direction very well, and she gives every
task 100 percent.”

During high school, Allison Ashmore volunteered at the Salve University Library in Newport, because she had always loved books, but she discovered she would rather be around people and more active at a full-time job. Even then, she was curious about working at the food galley. 

“With the right kind of support, Allison can do a lot of things,” her mom said. “Organizations like GCE working under the AbilityOne® program are very valuable to people with disabilities. Allison’s experience has been life-changing.”

Allison takes community transport to work each day, and she’s learned to check the arrival times on her tablet. If the transporter is late, she calls and asks, “Where are you?” According to Allison, she’s learned customer service, organization, courtesy, and respect.

When GCE took over the contract in 2010 she was nervous about her new bosses. “Now it’s like I’ve always been working for them,” she said. “I can ask any question. They say I do really well, and they depend on my good work.”

When two galleys were condensed into one at Ney Hall, Allison learned to manage a degree of change, but consistency was her comfort zone. A larger galley meant more customers and meals.

However, in time, she learned to refill the salad bar, condiments, food station and fruit baskets like a pro.

“Allison also cleans for inspection teams and is a great deep cleaner,” said Rodney Novak, project manager. “You have to remind her to take a break.”

In her off time, Allison enjoys coloring for her family and co-workers. She also enjoys watching Disney princess movies and reading books like “The Little Mermaid” to her nieces and nephews.

Allison was selected to be the 2017 GCE Employee of the Year, and when asked what that means to her, she said, “It’s different than being Employee of the Month but way better!”

Allison’s mom said they look also forward to advocating alongside the GCE team when they travel to Capitol Hill for the 2018 Grassroots Advocacy Campaign.

“Allison loves her job. It’s brought her so much pride and satisfaction, and just as importantly, a financial independence that we never dreamed possible.” Mrs. Ashmore said.

“She wanted an opportunity to choose her own vocation just like everyone else, and it’s changed not only her life but ours, as well!”

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