EDITOR’S NOTE: Lena is a “Personal Assistant” in our Supported Living Department, which means that she works one-on-one a customer (Anita), helping Anita live independently in her own home. Recently, we asked our staff to share stories of their everyday work lives, and Lena wrote the following. Thanks, Lena!
By Lena Ruminski, Personal Assistant
Though I have worked for UCP for almost four years, I never knew the kind of joy I could bring someone until this last September when I started working with Anita.
While Anita is a woman of few words (unless asked questions), there is one sure way to know that she is enjoying herself: her eyes. The first time I experienced her unique expression of joy was when I introduced her to one of the best things about fall: Starbucks’ seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.
While Anita is a mocha gal herself, I convinced her to try the PSL and upon first sip, she was sold. She looked up at me after her first taste—and her blue eyes were two huge saucers as she exclaimed, “That’s good!”
And for the rest of her beverage, after every sip, her wide eyes returned.
After we finished up, we started our walk back to her apartment. I started walking fast (and pushing her wheelchair quickly, too) because I was getting chilly. I heard her say “This is fun!” So, I picked up the pace to give her a bit more of a thrill.
As I prepared to get her back inside her house, I stopped and turned to her. I saw those wide eyes again as she said, “Can we do that again?!?”
Needless to say, we have been regulars at the Starbucks every Saturday shift for our weekly PSL fix.
It's rainy and cold here in Oregon, but we're excited because we have some great news for you!
UCP Oregon was awarded a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services, which we're using to highlight and celebrate the hard work of our Direct Support Professionals.
We created a "Share the Love" story project, where our direct support staff could share stories about their work life--the fun stuff, the hard stuff, and even the funny parts. Every person who submitted a story was awarded a $100 Visa gift card.
We received so many fabulous stories. We'll be sharing several of them here (see the link below) and on Facebook over the next few weeks, so make sure to check back in.
PS: Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a story!
*DSP's are employees who provide direct support to customers, such as Personal Assistants, Support Specialists, Support Coordinators, Personal Coordinators, Assistant Team Leaders, Substitute Support Professionals, Children’s Support Professionals, Job Coaches, and Employment Specialists.