Q: What is your position at Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities?
Q: What does your position entail?
A: We take care of the daily needs of the children; the morning care, afternoon care and evening care. We work with oxygen, feeding tubes, do activities with the children, and get them ready for bed.
Q: What is a normal day like for you?
A: After 3 p.m. it gets pretty crazy. All the kids come down from school and the home end staff starts getting them freshened for the afternoon. Then we usually have our activities. We do different feeds and have a few children who eat by mouth. We have different TV shows on, we play games with them, and we monitor and interact with the children. We have volunteers who come in and rock the children or read to them. The Center has a recreation coordinator on staff during the evenings, so we may take some of the children to do activities. There is usually a loud group and a quiet group.
Q: How long have you been at Cedarcrest?
A: Eleven years.
Q: How did you first get involved with Cedarcrest?
A: I took a tour during my LNA program and liked it, but I went to work at another facility I had already applied to. I worked there for a year and then began looking for a facility where there would be constant change. I am more of an active person; I don’t like to do the same thing every day. I applied to Cedarcrest and have been in love with it ever since!
Q: How did you get into working with children? Specifically children with special needs?
A: I am a father of six. Since my kids were little, I have always been involved with children. I coached, I Scouted, and did all types of activities when my kids were little.
When I was younger, I worked with children with special needs. I worked at a summer program for kids with Down syndrome. I left that work to raise my own family. Working all the time, it was hard to continue to work with children with special needs, but after I started coaching again, I would always get the children with seizure disorders or behavioral problems because the parents knew what my background was. So I would take them on. I loved it. It’s a challenge to me, but I love it.
When I came to Cedarcrest, I loved it. When people come to Cedarcrest for the first time, they see sadness. I still have people say “God bless you to work there because it is so sad.” No it’s not! What many people don’t see are the accomplishments these kids make every day.
I have seen children get rid of a trach, get rid of a feeding tube. I have seen children go home or go out of the Center to school. I look at the positive of what Cedarcrest does. It gives these children a home atmosphere along with medical care where they can accomplish anything! I think of them as regular children with some added bells and whistles. You get to know each child, each personality, and how they each communicate.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The children! They are the biggest reward. When you walk in here, you may think you have all these problems. And then you look at the children and you’re like “What am I complaining about?” Our children are inspiring!
Besides the children, Cedarcrest Center is an incredible support system for the community, the children we serve, and their families. We are here because there are places that parents cannot take their children. I see parents who have never been on vacations because it is so financially, physically and mentally demanding.
Cedarcrest takes some of the burden off for these families. And we assure families that we couldn’t do what they do – they are only one person 24/7. We are a staff, so we’re here for 8 hour shifts and then we get a break. We are here to support the families – parents, guardians and siblings. Siblings come in and we interact with them as well and make it feel like a home where families can have time together without having to do it all on their own. They can visit and be a family while staff takes care of all the medical needs.
Q: What are your long-term goals in this field?
A: To be a respiratory therapist and stay connected to Cedarcrest Center. Hopefully down the road the Center will need a respiratory therapist on staff and I can stay here until I retire.