What is your background?
I started working with the disabled community in high school. I was the teaching assistant for the Special Ed classes. And just fell right into it. I met so many amazing people (that I still work with) and got to learn how much of an impact we were on each other. Watching them get so excited over what we many learn easily and take for granted. For example, watching their faces light up because they learned how to give me change for a $10 bill, tie their shoes and or even write their name. After having my daughter I worked for a large day program as a DSP running a mobile work crew, that worked in the community doing paid janitorial and yard work. After about 10 years of doing that I moved on to being the Time Study manager. I then was a private caregiver and end of life support for many years. But working with our folks has always been my passion and always will be.
What made you want to be of service to your clients?
Well, it all started when I was in the 6th grade. We used to carpool to school and a classmate of mine had a little sister with down syndrome and she would tag along for the rides. One morning she was eating a bagel and cream cheese and smeared it in my hair. All the kids in the car laughed at her, not me, but I was the one with cream cheese everywhere. And I remember thinking to myself “Well this kid needs help” and that led the way for me to do what I do. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference in this field, sounds a little cliché but now I know why. And here I am.
How did you come to work at CHD?
I heard through working in this field that there was an Instructor training position open at “REI” Redwood Empire Industries, which is now CHD disABILITY Services. And I was excited to start working in the field again.
How has CHD impacted your life?
Wow, where do I start? When I first started I had no idea that the corporation was so big. No idea that we had so many departments and that we have so much support for the community. I have met some amazing people and made great friends, especially in the last 3 years since there has been a big turnover. It is a friendly, family-like environment. I love that I can walk down the halls and always get a wave or a smile.
How have your clients impacted your life?
The people I work with every day just amaze me. There is really never a dull moment. The fact that they have come so far over the years. Some from being in institutions to being able to live on their own and me still being able to support, guide, and teach them makes me appreciate how strong and motivating they are. They have taught me many lessons and self-worth and how to look at life and certain situations from a different perspective.
If there’s one issue in your field you think needs to be addressed what is it?
Society should move towards not considering a disability a personal deficit or shortcoming, and instead of thinking of it as a social responsibility in which all people can be supported to live independent and full lives, it becomes easier to recognize and address challenges that all people including those with disabilities experience.
To learn more about CHD disABILITY Services please watch the video below and visit our disABILITY Services page: