Shaunna Christiana has worked a good number of jobs in her life. But the role of care-giver—of helping people—is the role she feels most comfortable.
“When you come in to work, and walk through those doors, you can’t help but smile when you see the individuals we serve,” she said, talking specifically about Crossroads, a day program for people with disabilities. “Most of the individuals get so excited to see you, you feel like you made their day by simply walking into the room. Whatever is going on in your own personal life disappears when you see someone that happy to be with you.”
As a Case Manager, Shaunna works with the individuals and their families or guardians to set annual goals through an Individual Service Plan. Once the plan is in place, she works with the staff and family members at Crossroads to implement the plan. Goals in the plan address different skills for each person, and may include communication, social development, sensory motor, mobility, behavior, health, hygiene, budgeting and other skills for independent living, and behavior needed to be a member of the community.
“Whatever is going on in your own personal life disappears when you see someone that happy to be with you.”
“Along with determining the goals and implementing the plan, I assess the progress of each case, make sure the goals are appropriate,” Shaunna said. “We may have to lower expectations if necessary, or try a different approach. And at the same time, we occasionally have to raise the bar because some individuals surpass the goals well before we anticipated. If nothing else, they are full of surprises,” she said, laughing.
Crossroads, in Pittsfield, is one of three Day Habilitation programs BCArc offers, each with a slightly different focus, but all foster opportunities for socialization, celebrate the individuals and their gifts, and seeks to provide enriching experiences. Each program also includes regular community service opportunities, and community service events.
While the day offers minimal down-time, Shaunna welcomes the pace of the day. “This is an area where you have to be dedicated,” she said. “We are a team,” she said of the staff. “It’s one big family here. We deal with every issue together. We all work hard, but we also make sure humor always has a presence in the work.”