Neighbors – Somer Quinlan: passionate about music, mom and director of ROOC


NORTHEAST MICHIGAN – July 2020, halfway through a global pandemic, may not have been the most ideal time to take on a new job, especially that of Executive Director of ROOC, Inc. Somer Quinlan was an opportunity to continue helping people, as she has done her entire career.

Prior to joining ROOC staff five years ago as a program manager, Quinlan worked with the courts as a juvenile probation officer and was a friend of the court as a liaison officer in cases of abuse and neglect.

ROOC (Roscommon, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Crawford) is a local non-profit organization committed to helping people with disabilities receive integrated community services through job training.

Born in Pontiac, Michigan to Bonnie and Dave O’Dell, she and her family lived in Florida for a time, until her mother decided to return to Michigan to raise their family. Somer grew up in the area and graduated from Roscommon High School before continuing her education at Central Michigan University, where she earned a degree in psychology.

Since graduating from college, Somer has worked at a variety of locations including a hotel complex and Keizer College, both located in the Florida Keys. Working for a consignment store, accountant, securities firm, and even as a former part-owner of a local Livery canoe added to his life experiences.

“These were all stops along the way that gave me a well-balanced background.” Somer said.

Somer, as you can tell from his name, has said the summer season is his favorite time of year.

Or, as she says, “I think mom did a good job with my name.”

Living near Lake Margarethe in Grayling allows Somer to go out with his family on his pontoon or paddle board, as well as on cycle paths.

Somer said she also enjoys live folk and bluegrass music, attending festivals across the state. She is thrilled to attend Farm Fest in Johannesburg. As part of her appreciation for music, she is also planning to host a music related fundraiser at ROOC, similar to Art in the Park.

Somer had hoped that his two sons, Finnley 13 and Fletcher 15, would be interested in following his passion and starting a musical instrument. Although the two boys took piano and guitar lessons, they focused on sports.

Somer said Fletcher is looking forward to playing basketball this season. He spent time this summer at basketball camp and currently works at the Northbound Food Truck.

Finnley, on the other hand, enjoys scuba diving.

When Somer talks about her sons, she gets a twinkle in his eyes and a special harmony in his voice. Likewise, his passion and dedication to his work with ROOC shines through in his conversation.

During her interview for the executive director role, interviewer Cherie Johnson asked Somer why she was interested in the job.

“I always wanted to have a job that I found meaningful and fulfilling at the end of the day.”

“Then this is the job for you,” replied Johnson.

Based in County Roscommon, ROOC serves people with disabilities in Ogemaw, Oscoda and Crawford counties. ROOC’s goal is to help every customer reach their full potential.

Clients volunteer in the community at ARK (Association to Rescue Kritters), Habitat for Humanity, various churches, and River House Baby Pantry. They learn skills through vocational training, such as packaging, selling and delivering Spencer candy.

“For these people to achieve a sense of self-worth, self-worth and the knowledge that they belong, and are part of something (special) is invaluable,” Somer said.

Always looking to the future, Somer hopes to one day provide a job opportunity in the county, such as the After 26 Depot Cafe in Cadillac, which is dedicated to employing adults with developmental and cognitive disabilities. in the counties of Wexford, Missaukee and Osceola.

One thing she is particularly proud of is the way the ROOC has achieved and maintained its accreditation from the Rehabilitation Facilities Accreditation Commission (CARF). CARF is a global company and recognizes health and human service providers as having met specific standards for quality of service to customers.

Whether they’re in their twenties, eighties and in between, ROOC’s clients hold a special place in her heart.

“It’s a great organization and I’m lucky to be a part of it.

For more information on ROOC, visit


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