Q&A with Ashley Stockman, director of Adult Day at the J

Ashley+Stockman+directs+the+Jewish+Community+Center%27s+Adult+Day+at+the+J+program.

Ashley Stockman directs the Jewish Community Center’s Adult Day at the J program.

ELLEN FUTTERMAN, Editor-in-Chief

In one or two sentences, can you describe your job?

I am responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the J’s Adult Day program, which supports adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and aging adults within the St. Louis area. The majority of my time is spent providing case management services for our participants and families, directly supporting participants throughout the day, developing community partnerships, program and service enhancements, volunteer coordination for Adult Day at the J (ADJ), marketing and outreach, grant writing and managing a variety of government funding contracts.

I understand the pandemic closed the Adult Day center from mid-March to early June. How did you keep in touch with the folks who rely on the center daily? 

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In the face of uncertainty, the one thing we knew had to be done was to maintain connection with our families and participants. Our ADJ team did just that via weekly/daily phone calls, connecting families to essential resources, pivoting to a virtual programming model and weekly delivery of activity packets to participants’ homes to encourage engagement in our daily virtual programming.

What was the biggest surprise for you in terms of how the pandemic affected the population at the Adult Day center?

Over our short 11-week closure, the most shocking realization was the rapid deterioration of cognitive function, physical mobility, speech and social skills experienced by many of our participants. What was surprising upon reopening was how easily our participants adapted to the new safety protocols, as well as how quickly our young individuals were able to regain lost skills and how the cognitive regression slowed for our seniors upon returning to the ADJ.

Is there anything about the pandemic you will miss? 

Since we never really had the luxury of working from home, there are only a few things that drastically changed for us. Mostly, I miss the light traffic, flexibility in time to learn new things and troubleshoot challenges that arise, more relaxed work attire and being able to bring our personal pets to the center during the day.

Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to doing this summer? 

Giving lots of hugs, high-fives and seeing smiling faces, but most of all I cannot wait to experience live outdoor concerts again!