Tune in today as Lance, Rob and Adrian interview Kathryn Gerhards with Rise Services.
Kathryn was born and raised in Portland Oregon. She has a BA in Psychology, with a minor in American Language Studies. Since graduating in 2012, she has worked in non-profits providing supports to underserved communities. Join us in part 2 of a 3 part series.

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Episode 54 Transcript

Guest Kathryn Gerhards 2 of 3

Adrian  00:02

Hello future millionaires and welcome back to the get rich slow podcasts. We’re your hosts, Adrian Shermer, Rob Delavan and Mr. brilliant at the basics. Lance Johnson. Good morning, gentlemen.

Lance Johnson  00:12

Good morning. Good morning, everybody. Kathryn, I’m excited to record with you again. It’s awesome to have you back.

Kathryn Gerhards  00:21

Thank you.

Adrian  00:22

Yeah, we’re back with Kathryn. Episode two of three exploring her life, her career and the wonderful thing she does with the company she’s with. You can find us online on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Amazon, music, YouTube, and a number of different streaming services. If you’ve got one you love, please let us know we’d love to hop on that platform. As I said, today is all about Kathryn Gerhard and specifically, Rice Services Incorporated, which is a wonderful organization. Kathryn was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she has a BA in Psychology with a minor in American Sign Language and since graduating in 2012, she’s worked with nonprofits providing support to underserved communities and yesterday was really all about Kathryn’s very storied history, you’ve been through a lot that the work experience column is full of. I don’t know it’s like strength training. You’ve picked up the heavyweights at this point, I know I did a shot put in high school, you do it with a heavier ball, and then you compete with something lighter. I think the work you’re doing now is still extremely valuable. But you’re not getting bit as much right now I hear. So, that’s good. But mostly just that little guy, he doesn’t seem to ferocious  and today is more about getting to know what you’re doing currently, and how you’re making positive impacts on the community that you work in.

Rob Delavan  01:48

Okay, Kathryn, let me kick us off here. So, tell us about your business, and what makes you so passionate about it and then we’ll follow up with what makes you different, and sets you apart.

Kathryn Gerhards  02:07

Awesome. So, Rice Services is a nonprofit that provides support to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities all across the state. So, that’s what we do, we have a bunch of different services, service models that we provide supports to a bunch of different offices. But at the end of the day, what we’re doing is providing support to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. So, what that could look like is just really helping them live as independently as possible. Depending on if they’re two years old, or 80 years old, we’re focused on how to help them be as independent as possible. So, if that’s learning social skills, playing games, going to the park, that kind of stuff, or if it’s going grocery shopping, paying bills, making sure to take medications, whatever it looks like, it’s a really dynamic position, because the people that we work with are super dynamic. So, this is what you do every day. But the easiest way to sum it up is just helping people live as independently as possible.

Rob Delavan  03:07

Obviously, your passion shines through on this, this is incredible work. You are making a difference.

Kathryn Gerhards  03:16

Yeah, definitely.

Rob Delavan  03:19

So, you’re making that difference, what sets you apart and this can either be your role or Rice’s, where’s that come in?

Kathryn Gerhards  03:28

I think what sets us apart is we are, and this is why I love what I do is we are really all about personality and fit. So, the people that we support are super dynamic. They really, they range in ages, interests, location, etc. So, we’re always trying to find the support workers that will match and be a good fit for that person. Because it’s not just about you need the support, here’s a person make it work. It’s like, we’re really trying to find someone who is going to be a good person for you to help teach you those skills or build a connection with you or have that rapport. So, that’s a big focus of what we do every day, is trying to find good matches and then everybody what makes my job really fun is that everybody that works at Rise, really wants to work at Rice, and everyone really cares. Genuinely at the end of the day, what we’re doing is trying to provide the best support that we can. So, we’re all on the same team working towards the same goal and it’s just a fun environment to work with. Because everybody’s there for the right reasons and we get to be super creative. Because we work with people, we don’t work with widgets. So, it’s not like hey, this is how you solve this problem. It’s always like the world is changing and this is what’s happening and this is the person that we have today and this is their response. So, how do we adapt and change what we’re doing to be the best that we can Be for that person and not everybody at what works for one person isn’t going to work for that another person and what worked five years ago for recruitment doesn’t work today, even a year ago with COVID, things have totally changed. So, what I look forward to every day is just thinking creatively and doing things different and having the opportunity to change up what I’m doing, and try to solve the same problem in a different way.

Rob Delavan  05:29

So, your product, every organization has a product. Your product, even though your nonprofit, but your product is literally making people with developmental disabilities, their lives better by connecting them with people who want to pour into them, and frankly, get paid to do it which is kind of powerful.

Kathryn Gerhards  05:51

Yeah, we don’t sell anything. We don’t make a profit. It’s hard to say like, at the end of the day, we sold 10 widgets, or whatever we do. But at the end of the day, did you try as hard as you can as you make a connection, did you make somebody smile today? Those are the types of things that you can’t quantify. But it’s more of an internal feeling of like, man, it was awesome or today, we’ve been working all day or all year on how helping this person memories their address, and they memorized it and we did it and it’s those types of things that we do every day.

Rob Delavan  06:36

Wow, that’s powerful.

Adrian  06:38

All right. Kathryn, I love asking you these questions. Because honestly, I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know that you guys existed because it’s such a wonderful organization. I think sometimes we feel in the world that there’s not enough being done for people like this. This impacts me personally, I had a brother who had Down syndrome, it’s incredibly difficult for people who are even high functioning to operate in this world and it’s really great that the services that your company provides exists. So, I can’t thank you enough for what you do. I want to ask, what do you get asked most by your clients and what’s the number one pain point that you solve for them?

Kathryn Gerhards  07:19

That’s a great question. I was reflecting on this question and there are a couple of things that we hear all the time. Number one, the biggest issue that we have is that there aren’t enough people to do this work. So, we have 500 people sitting on a waitlist right now waiting for that person across the state and they’re just waiting. They’re just Oregon. So, this is a service that they want, that they know that they need that they know that they’ll benefit from, and we just don’t have the people. So, I would say I guess the number one question I get asked is when are you going to find my person, how are you finding my person? When am I going to get my person and that’s the hope that we’re always trying to solve is, who do we have? How do we match people and how do we make the best match. The biggest kind of issue with that is financing. People wanting to do this work hourly wage, it is more of an entry level position. So, trying to get people who want to do this work, want to stay and want to build that connection and it’s great when we get people who we’ve had multiple people who this is their like, first job, and then they move on with their career, but they stay a natural support for that individual, because they’ve built that connection, and now they’re part of their network versus being a paid support. So, that’s kind of the dream. But I would say that’s the biggest what we do every day. Our biggest hurdle is just literally having that people that want to do the work.

Rob Delavan  08:56

How many people Kathryn do you employ, right now compared to the 500 positions that you’re trying to fill?

Kathryn Gerhards  09:02

We have about 650 employees in the state.

Rob Delavan  09:06

Well, that’s just a small organization.

Adrian  09:11

If I can ask just a quick follow up, what’s the ratio? I’m sure everyone requires a different level of care, but you hire someone and that one person gets assigned to a single recipient of care.

Kathryn Gerhards  09:23

It’s a good question, it depends and in the Portland metro area, the majority of our clients are individuals that we support live at home with their parents. So, the family unit gets to set how many hours they want a week, or how much support that they get. So, they could have access to 700 staffed hours, but they might only want five or 10 or 15 or 20 a week. So, that’s another thing that we do with our matching is if somebody comes to us and just wants part time work, great. You only want to work three days a week. Here’s a family that only wants three days a week, and so we match them together but if you want 40 hours a week and then we might match you with two or three individuals that you work with one on one. But you would go to set several houses throughout the week. So, that’s part of that fit that we’re working on, as well as like, where do you live? Who are you looking for? What are the hours you want? What’s your personality? Who do we have?

Rob Delavan  10:17

Your HR is busy.

Lance Johnson  10:21

Well, I’m kind of interested as the financial advisor, how do you get funding, you got 650 people and you got to step up. But how does that work as far as your funding is concerned?

Kathryn Gerhards  10:36

We are state funded. So, all of our money that we get comes from the state through Disability Services. If a person is diagnosed with a developmental disability, they take what’s called an owner or an Oregon needs assessment and that is like a 200-question questionnaire that spits out a number that says this is how many hours the state will pay for you to receive services. So, it could be 20 hours a month and those are probably little littler kiddos, because it’s expected that parents are the natural support for two-year-old. So, there will be a little bit of help that the state will provide all the way up to 700 hours, which is pretty much 24/7 And that’s probably for adults or teenagers who are getting close to adulthood that really can’t depend on parents to provide 24/7 hours’ worth of support. so, the state does all of that, figuring out and this year, we’ve been in legislation for years and years, the right model for this service has never been fully funded. But as of this year, the hope is that they are fully funding the right model. so, we’re all looking towards getting a wage increase from the state because everybody that provides the service gets the same wage and kind of pigeonholes us into what we can pay staff because of what they’ll pay us. So, that’s something that’s on the horizon.

Lance Johnson  12:09

For a good thing that Rob, Adrian, I don’t take that questionnaire, because we probably be fine.

Rob Delavan  12:19

I’m sure. You know our limitations.

Kathryn Gerhards  12:24

Yeah. You guys kept us on the head earlier, as well as like, you wouldn’t know about rise unless you know about rights, you wouldn’t know unless someone who works for us.

Adrian  12:35

There is no rights billboards.

Kathryn Gerhards  12:37

Yeah, right.

Adrian  12:38

You’re paying for a box seat at the Blazers, it all goes to help.

Lance Johnson  12:46

I think it’s interesting that you all get paid the same. So, in any hockey team, and any business organization, there are your rock stars, and then there’s people that need to get caught up and there’s just a bell-shaped curve above quality of services, we all get paid the same. So, it’s interesting, different than the private world.

Kathryn Gerhards  13:09

So, something that people ask is, why can this agency pay more than your agency, and it’s usually because they don’t offer benefits, or they don’t offer HR or they don’t offer supervisors or they don’t offer, they cut the overhead to give the people more money, which is great, but then they’re set up to fail. Because what happens if something goes wrong? What happens if you get hurt? What happens if you need time off, or whatever it is. So, that’s another thing that the state is looking at is, how to the head of the agencies that are doing this work? All have the same expectations of employees and the only other thing that I wanted to just make sure to say is, you all know what a CNA is, right? If I say that acronym.

Rob Delavan  13:56

Nursing assistant.

Adrian  13:57


Kathryn Gerhards  14:04

That’s another acronym that you know what that means. But if I say DSP, which is what we employ, you’ve probably never heard of, don’t know what that stands for or have no idea.

Lance Johnson  14:13

I would say [Inaudible 14:16].

Kathryn Gerhards  14:15

So, that’s another mission of what we’re trying to do is make DSP which is people that provide the support and CNA, a similar like household term, because there are 1000s in the state of Oregon alone and you don’t know it.

Rob Delavan  14:34

Is its direct service provider.

Kathryn Gerhards  14:38

Direct support professional.

Rob Delavan  14:41

It is a certification you’re going through.

Kathryn Gerhards  14:48

Yeah, you get trained through us and then by the time you’re done training, you are a direct support professional. It’s not like, you can’t go to school for it. So, it’s a little bit different but it is a career path and then people can take

Rob Delavan  15:01

Interesting, that’s fascinating.

Lance Johnson  15:07

I love asking this question. But Kathryn, right now, in your career in your life, what are you most excited about right now?

Kathryn Gerhards  15:17

This is a good question. I feel excited, I’ve reflected on this a little bit, because I feel excited every day, I am a goal-oriented person. and then I realized through this process that I set like, tiny goals. I’m like, oh, by the end of this week, I want to do XYZ or by tomorrow, I need to do these things. I guess I just didn’t think about this a lot and what I’m really most excited about is, as you guys, you’ve probably heard of COVID. Before, I don’t know if that has hit your business, but we are coming into a new normal and it’s been really hard to plan or set long term goals, because especially with working with people, there’s no way to like remote in that one on one service with people with developmental disabilities. So, everything’s been on pause, or short-term planning of like, okay, let’s get through this week, let’s get through this month, let’s wait until we hear back from this agency or whatever. So, what I’m most excited about right now is this like new normal of we’re getting back in person, we’re figuring it out, we’re opening things back up and we’re in a different world than we were a pre COVID. Things are more digitized, people are expecting different things out of a work environment, people are job searching differently than they have before. And there’s just more and different awareness and opportunities. I don’t think there’s no way to know what that’s going to look like yet. So, every day is just a new day, a new time. I’m just really excited for the untapped possibilities that are out there right now and what the next six months are going to bring, as well figure out this new normal.

Rob Delavan  17:09

So, you’re definitely evolving. Your business model, you’re in transition.

Kathryn Gerhards  17:13


Rob Delavan  17:15

Interesting. Is there some specific examples of like how you’re hiring today versus what you were doing before? Are you still working on that?

Kathryn Gerhards  17:26

Well, we went pretty much fully remote as much as possible. So, pre COVID, we didn’t do any virtual interviews, they were all in person. And that was just how you got a job and now we’re then we were like, okay, now we’re going to go back all in person, because we’ve been all virtual and now, we’re finding, especially in the Portland metro area, our office is in Tigard. So, if you live in Troutdale, you’re not wanting you’re not going to drive to Tiger to do an interview for a job that you don’t even know if you’re going to get. So, that’s a new pivot that we’ve done of like, okay, let’s offer both, like, why not? We can do both. So, why does it have to be all or nothing. Job Fairs are another thing. So, we’re at a lot of colleges, we do a lot of presentations. Job Fairs used to be super popular hundreds of students and now, virtual fairs, were not super successful, and back to in person haven’t been super successful, because people don’t want to be in a large group. So, that’s another thing of like, okay, how do we have the same impact to the same student body? But differently, how do you get people to show up virtually or how do you get people to show up in person or how do you get your message out? So, that would be an example of something we’re still figuring out and I don’t think anybody knows yet what the answer to that is, because it’s just all.

Rob Delavan  18:47

You said colleges, do you work with high schools also or is this an 18 plus position?

Kathryn Gerhards  18:53

You have to be 18 and over. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the people that we support, but for our job pool that shrinks it a little bit. But we have we actually have a college president or high school presentation and our Eugene office today, I believe, talking to graduating high school students, because it is a career and nonprofits, like we talked about in the last podcast. If you want to get into a nonprofit, you might not know what you’re getting into until you’re there. So, having the opportunity to talk to people that work at nonprofits to learn about different nonprofits, what’s going on, what does it look like, I think is really valuable. So, the more we can get out into the community, the better,

Rob Delavan  19:38

Interesting. The beauty of that, though, is graduating seniors or maybe partway through their senior year, that sort of thing. These are flexible positions. So, as you evolve and target that and it’s going to be fun to see how you tackle these problems. I just remember last year sometime when you and I first met, it was like, hold on, Kathryn, you have how many people on staff, you have an incredible amount of influence, that you’re hiring all of these people like, Whoa, this is a big job that you do. So, obviously, it’s exciting and we can hear your excitement and passion on this. So, keep up the good work. That’s all. I have a 10th of the impact you do and that might be over egoic myself here. So, it’s incredible.

Adrian  20:44

All right, Kathryn, thank you again for joining us. To our audience. I just want to say, we don’t ask very much on here, we’re mostly looking to preach the gospel of financial literacy, this is a free thing that we do. Obviously, our podcast doesn’t cost any money to listen to and we love that we want to spread knowledge throughout everybody. I hope that as many people as possible get to hear these things that can help them grow their wealth, but I am going to ask that if you know someone, please get them in touch with Kathryn. This is incredibly powerful and important work. If you know someone who’s graduating, if you know someone who’s retiring, if you know someone who just loves the idea of helping people. This is an awesome career that clearly Kathryn you’ve shown us. You can have a ton of flexibility to if you only got 10 or 20 hours a week, you can still be part of this wonderful movement and it’s sad to me that COVID impacted you guys the way it did in my mind. For some reason, I thought that these services would just kind of plough through that, but I understand that there were a number of logistical issues that you ran into and you guys , t sounds like you were hit as hard as some of the hardest hit industries like restaurants and other groups. So, Kathryn, where can where can people find you?

Kathryn Gerhards  21:53

Yeah, you can find me you can send me an email. My email address is Kathryng@Riseservices inc.org. Or you can text or call me by phone at 503-345-8001 and Rise services also has a Facebook and social media, Facebook, Instagram, all that good social media stuff at Rise Services, Inc. So, you can look us up there as well.

Adrian  22:21

Awesome, awesome. Rise services inc.org. Check out their website, find out what they’re doing. Again, if you know someone, let them know this is an awesome opportunity. You guys are all over the place to write so you don’t have to come to the Portland metro. This is we talk about work from home the freedom of being able to work from anywhere. You could do this anywhere because they need help everywhere. So, again, please if you can think of someone check out the show notes. If you want to contact any of us directly, you can also check out our website get rich, slow podcast.com and thanks so much for listening, folks. Kathryn, we look forward to wrapping this up with Episode Three where we talk about the future of Rise services and where you guys are headed.

Kathryn Gerhards  23:03

Awesome. Thank you so much.

Rob Delavan  23:04

Thank you so much for listening. Thank you, Kathryn.

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