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ACR Offers Opportunities for Learning Life Skills


Gwyn, her daughter, and her son…ALL ACR Employees!

Gwyn Callaghan started at ACR as a live-in supervisor back in 1993 and ACR’s COO Gene Leistico was one of the staff she supervised. Thanks to Gwyn, he stayed!  Gene said of Gwyn that she “instantly made me feel that I was important to her.  Important to her as an employee who would help fill the schedule, yes. But also important to her as a person.  As a new, insecure employee, that made all the difference.”  Deb Nygaard, ACR’s Director of Growth & Development, added that “Gwyn’s managerial style kept employees around longer than anyone I know.  We used to study her to figure how to duplicate it.”

Gwyn and her husband found that the live-in role worked well with raising a family: she had a job she loved and they had a place to live rent-free. After 5 years as a live-in supervisor, her career then took a new direction as a full-time mom and part-time interior designer for ACR.  In this new role, her job involved designing ACR’s homes to meet the functional needs of people with disabilities while also creating a wonderful sense of “home.”

Now, 23 years since her start at ACR, Gwyn’s kids are grown. All three of them have made ACR a significant part of their lives, first by being part of the live-in experience, then shadowing her on various interior design projects, and more recently by becoming ACR employees themselves!

Paying for school without loans

“Applying at ACR Homes was a no-brainer for my kids,” said Gwyn.  Her son was starting college and needed a job to pay for school.  Her daughter was 16 at the time and already had in mind pursuing a career in nursing so she decided to follow suit.  They both applied and got accepted on the same day.   Now, 3 years later, Gwyn notes, “they’ve both grown to love the job. And I’m really grateful for the life skills they’ve learned from their work.” Her son is a writer and a musician and her daughter is in college working on her RN degree and is “learning a lot on this job that will be beneficial for her career in healthcare.” Gwyn notes that her two older children are paying their own way in school without loans so far, and her younger daughter can’t wait to apply when she turns 16 next January.

The life skills learned at ACR are priceless

“I thought my husband and I were decent “life skills” teachers, but we all get to a certain age where it’s good to have other teachers and mentors. ACR is great at that,” said Gwyn. “The things my kids have learned and gained at ACR are priceless. Not only have my kids gained basic life skills, ACR has helped them develop skills in caring for and coming alongside individuals with special needs. Through their work at ACR I have watched them grow in sensitivity, awareness, compassion, responsibility, creativity, patience, endurance, being able to work with others, solving problems and making decisions, listening, and figuring out the needs and desires of someone who cannot communicate verbally … the list goes on and on. I don’t think any other job could offer all the learning opportunities that ACR does. I love this company!”

Gwyn reflected recently on her long connection with ACR. “My love and desire for working in this field actually came from the years of growing up while my dad worked at Cambridge State Hospital where he did physical therapy and worked on modifying wheelchairs for people with disabilities.  I loved visiting him and getting to know the people he served.  All three of our children were a part of ACR at a young age and had the same blessing I had growing up around people with disabilities. ACR has had a big role in our family.  I’m thrilled about sharing this part of life with my kids.”

–Gwyn Callaghan, ACR interior designer and mother of “the guy in the cap”