14 Jan National Mentoring Month: Bringing Smiles
January is National Mentoring Month! At New Hope of Indiana mentorship is often an informal relationship and can be found woven throughout our mission. Much of the work that our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) do to support the individuals in their care involves mentoring them – teaching life skills for independence, practicing good decision-making, and encouraging them to set, meet and exceed personal goals. This month, we are celebrating two important New Hope mentors who support individuals with disabilities in achieving their dreams.
AIM’s Community Mentor
I was referred to New Hope by a former coworker in September of 2016. When I started, I was a DSP in the Day Services program for about 2 years before transitioning over to Achieving Inclusion and Meaning (AIM) as a Community Mentor.
My job is to provide active and engaging activities and interactions that allow the individuals served to grow and learn within their community. At work, I’m passionate about the individuals we serve, knowing the work I provide leaves a smile on their faces. The most meaningful part about my job is assisting individuals with their goals because it allows them to be more independent and helps with their decision making.
At home, I’m passionate about spending quality time with my family. I am most proud of being a mom and grandmother. My mom is my mentor because she has always taught me to treat everyone with respect and to always follow my dreams. I was brought up in the church and in our home we were always taught to put God first and to respect and love others. I learned from that and passed it down to my children. I am thankful for my mom and for her love, guidance, and for helping me to be the woman I am today.
I would tell anyone who may be interested in becoming a Community Mentor or supporting individuals with disabilities to be passionate in what they do and to work hard and make a difference.
Mentorship Guides Employment Opportunities
When I graduated from IUPUI with a degree in Social Work and Spanish, I applied to one nonprofit organization – New Hope of Indiana. I always knew I wanted to work for an organization that brings joy and happiness to individuals. After being interviewed by Kathy Ballard and Patrick Mitchell I knew that my dream job was as an employment specialist.
Employment specialists are people who help individuals with special needs find and maintain sustainable employment. I am passionate about seeing the smiles we bring to individuals at the end of their employment journey. My colleagues and or clients will describe me as a timid and punctual person. I am a timid person at first but once I get to know the individual I seem to open up more.
The most meaningful part of my job is seeing individuals become independent by obtaining employment. I had an individual that was able to obtain employment at a local laundry facility. This individual wanted employment but at the time no one was wanting to give her a chance to work. The day she got hired she mentioned all she wanted is to prove she is able to work and be independent.
One aspect that I really love about my job is getting to know our clients during the discovery process with Vocational Rehab before placing them in employment. I am proud of being able to work with both English and Spanish speaking individuals. This brings me joy knowing I will make their employment journey smoother.
As the first college graduate and first generation graduate from my family, I have learned that I have two sets of values and beliefs and have learned to adapt both into one set. My grandpa has always been my mentor. Salomon has always taught me to listen first, observe my surroundings and achieve my goals.
I would tell someone considering to work in this field to be prepared to wear different hats. An employment specialist is forced to play many roles throughout the employment journey. Secondly, be prepared to receive lots of smiles.