WARSAW — When she took her job at Cardinal Services in 2005, Warsaw native Michelle Boxell didn’t see it as a long term position. Fourteen years later, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I thought it was going to be an ‘in-between’ job between my government job and a ‘real job’,” she joked. “I ran into (retired Cardinal Services CEO) Jane Wear at a MLK event that January. A week later I was working there. I love Cardinal Services, the people I work with and the people we serve. It is truly a great place!”
After her graduation from Warsaw Community High School, Boxell went on to St. Mary’s College where she majored in government and creative writing. The “government” course of study at the school has since been renamed “political science,” but Boxell pointed out the program’s former department head refused to change the name during his tenure. “Government is different than political science,” she mused. “He taught me that political science is how to play the game (of politics), while government teaches the art of governing.”
Boxell’s first job after college was in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Tim Roemer. She served as the congressman’s staff assistant and was the first person visitors and constituents saw when they entered his office. As part of her duties, she also drafted constituent correspondence for the congressman’s review and signature, a role which she said her education in writing was helpful. She noted she also wrote several speeches for Roemer during the early days of his tenure, but the staff quickly learned he was much better at speaking extemporaneously rather than with prepared notes.
She stayed in the Washington office from 1991 until 1994, when a desire to move back to northern Indiana fell into a fortuitous timeline when a member of Roemer’s Indiana staff left his district office. Boxell quickly accepted the offer to serve as his field representative and district scheduler, a role which she filled from 1994 until Roemer’s retirement from Congress in 2002.
At Cardinal Services, Boxell works as the non-profit organization’s community relations director, a position she readily admits is hard to define. “My job is to help people understand what we do,” she said. “Cardinal Services has always worked to serve adults and young people who have developmental disabilities.”
She went on to describe the many programs Cardinal Services offers people in Kosciusko, Fulton, Marshall and Cass counties, including residential programs, day services, CCI manufacturing opportunities, WIC, Healthy Families and Head Start. She said Cardinal Services helps around 4,000 community members each year.
When she’s not in the office, Boxell said her passions include gardening and reading. “My vacations from work are usually spent in my garden,” she said. “Other people save their money to go different places. I save mine to buy new plants!”
Boxell lives with her mother and sister in the Warsaw home in which she grew up. “People ask ‘how can you live with three women in one house,’” she said. “We’ve learned to compromise on a lot of things. My mom is 82 and battled cancer last year. We are able to give her the support she needs.”
Since the death of her father a decade ago, Boxell has developed a passion for using power tools. “Cutting things down and hammering them together give me a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I even built the rock wall in front of our home.”
Without a doubt, Boxell is a woman with many talents and a true passion to serve others in her community.