WRC Employee Receives Top Honors

Julie SwongerHERSHEY, Pa. – WRC Senior Services Director of Home and Community Based Services Julie Swonger, of Brookville, was recently named “Manager of the Year” by LeadingAge PA at the organization’s annual state conference in Hershey.

LeadingAge PA is a trade association of over 370 not-for-profit organizations in Pennsylvania that provide housing, healthcare, and community services primarily to the elderly.

This award was part of their annual Distinguished Service Awards Program, established in 1973, to honor members who enhance the field of aging services through their involvement, innovation, and leadership.

According to LeadingAge PA, the “Manager of the Year” award is presented to “an outstanding mentor who has nurtured, coached, counseled, and encouraged others in order to help them develop personally and professionally as an individual and/or as part of a team.”

Swonger has been with WRC for 34 years. She oversees WRC’s home care agency In Home Solutions with offices in Clarion and Brookville, as well as the supportive housing and personal care divisions, which include seven WRC communities. In Clarion County, those are Highland Oaks in Shippenville and Edgewood Heights in New Bethlehem.

Her division within WRC had the lowest employee turnover rate and the highest rate of internal promotions throughout the past year.

“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss,” said WRC President-CEO Barbara Sepich. “Julie truly embodies what it means to be a leader and continues to build rapport and earn the trust of everyone around her after over 30 years of service to WRC. She remains dedicated day-in and day-out, and WRC is not only proud of this accomplishment, but also her accomplishments each and every day.”

Swonger started her career at WRC as an activities aide while still in high school and advanced through the organization over the years, becoming an Activities Director, Housing Manager, and eventually settling in her current role.

She was surprised by the award.

“I was very honored,” said Swonger. “Everyone that I’ve worked with throughout my journey deserves this award right beside me. We can’t get where we are without people supporting us, mentoring us, and role-modeling for us.”

She has seen a lot of changes throughout her years at WRC as the field of aging services continues to evolve, and she’s weathered a lot of challenges, yet always holds on to a positive attitude.”

“I know my purpose in life is to help others, and if we always focus on why we are here – to support and help our neighbors – we’ll make it through about anything,” said Swonger.

Swonger is a certified personal care home administrator and integrated chronic care specialist.

She is also a graduate of LeadingAge PA’s Fellows in Leadership program, an intensive 12 month development program to help build and support strong leaders in the aging services field.

In 2013, she was a recipient of WRC’s PRIDE Award for “Leader of the Year” at the annual employee awards banquet.

The PRIDE Awards are WRC’s most prestigious internal award and are given out through a nomination process to employees who exemplify WRC PRIDE. PRIDE stands for Professionalism, Responsibility, Innovation, Dedication, and Excellence.

In addition to her dedication to her work, Swonger is also passionate about Big Brothers, Big Sisters, where she has been volunteering for the last five years. She attends the Roseville Independent Chapel in Brookville.

She and her husband Mark have two daughters Markelle Swonger and Jessica (Swonger) Eby and are proud grandparents to their first grandson Owen Eby.

“I wish my whole family could have been on stage with me,” said Swonger. “I’m so thankful for them. They have always supported me.”

Swonger is an integral part of WRC Senior Services, which just celebrated its 125th anniversary last year. In Clarion County, they are getting ready to open Water Run Landing, a new senior living community in Clarion.

For more information about WRC, visit www.wrc.org.

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