MyODP News Online
A Retirement Farewell from Agnes A. Rudolf
A forward from ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens:
ODP Fiscal Officer Agnes Rudolf has announced her retirement. Agnes’ story is a familiar one, people stumble into this work and find a passion for it; they find a community in which they have a sense of belonging and decades later look back on their career with pride and accomplishment. Agnes' service to the field of disabilities is recognized and appreciated; her opinion on complex matters has been sought out and she will be missed. Agnes took some time to reflect on what this field has meant to her over her forty-eight-year career in working with individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities; which we are pleased to share with you:
Forty-eight years ago, at the age of 22, I began my career by accident. I was taking graduate classes at Lehigh U while waitressing, the woman with whom I carpooled suggested that I take her part-time job as a relief house parent at a group home since she was leaving. She introduced me to the full-time house parents, Ann and Tom. I had no experience; I had never even met anyone who had a disability. But they introduced me to the six women with whom I would be working, and we all hit it off. The women voted to hire me. Three months later, I accepted the position of full-time house parent at the same nonprofit working with five men. We all learned together - cooking, cleaning, laundry, banking, taking the bus, dining out, going to the movies, taking art classes, shoveling snow for the neighbors. In 1974, we went to Pennhurst, so the men could visit their friends who still lived there.
Ten years later, I went to Willowbrook while working with some agencies who were opening group homes in Brooklyn. In between, I got my Masters in Special Ed from Temple U, taught at Woodhaven (which was run by Temple back in the 70s), moved to Tampa to supervise a children’s program, and returned to PA to work briefly for the Pennhurst Special Master. I then moved to Hoboken to work for New York State and then for two different nonprofits. In the 80s, I spent a lot of time at community meetings trying to explain that people with a disability and the staff who supported them would be good neighbors.
A decade later, I returned to PA to work for the city on the Philadelphia ICF Bond Project; and I found myself at more community meetings with the same agenda. The only difference between the NYC and Philadelphia neighbors seemed to be that I rarely needed a police escort when leaving a meeting in Philly.
Another ten years went by while I worked on many projects that focused on people moving to community homes...most because of litigation (Danny B., Ruth L., Embreeville). And of course, there was the Bond Project, which supported primarily people whose families needed out-of-home residential supports for their sons and daughters.
In 1999, I decided to pivot and get additional education in the financial side of nonprofits; I went back to school part time to get a post baccalaureate certificate in accounting. Then I left the city for a CFO position at a nonprofit which provided community homes and related services.
Five years later, I moved to my current contract position with ODP. Working on moving from a county-based system to the current statewide system of services has been challenging; but I know I contributed to good change.
How to finish a 48-year career? I want to thank the people who helped me over the years to do my best and the people who trusted me to support them in building a better life. I want to thank my friends and family who encouraged me to try new things and to thank Ann Favarella who supported the women who voted to give me a chance in 1973.
Good people trying to improve the world have a way of finding each other and I have worked with many, many good people!
My next adventure begins on July 3, 2021!