"Kim can you please restock the linen cart with sheets and towels? "Nurse Donna asked, anxiously, in the middle of doing a hundred other things.
"Sure no problem!" I chirped.
"After that please bring Mr. Dooley his lunch from the hot truck then feed it to him." she muttered.
"Got it Nurse Donna!" I yelled as I lifted a huge load of towels onto the cart.
I was hooked the second I walked into that hospital in my red and whited striped Candy-striper uniform. I had volunteered before as a Girl Scout but now I really felt like I was helping people. I started when I was 12. I volunteered for four years. My friends made fun of me. I didn't care.
I went to my local community college. I loaded my schedule with classes in Psychology, then writing classes. Needless to say, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I dropped out and went to work full time. I had been working in retail up to that point and really started to hate it. I signed up for a nurses aide training course and worked for a home care agency for the next two years.
A friend of mine who was working at a center for developmentally disabled children said to me "You'd be great at working with MR/DD children. You should apply." I did just that. I was called the next day. I started working part time on weekends. I wanted a full time position. I picked up every extra shift I could. Finally a few months later I was given a full time ion.
The building was divided into four dorms: boys, girls, young men, and center dorm. (which WAS in the center of the building but I never understood why they called it that....it was the teenage girl's dorm) I was in Boy's dorm. I had one of the most difficult groups. My boys needed a lot of motivation to do the simplest things. They were very behavioral.
One of them needed five people to pull him off of you if you got caught in his iron grip when he had one of his fits. He was also extremely lovable when he wasn't angry. It was noise! Loud noise levels confused him and made him extremely agitated. Hey, I don't like a lot of noise and chaos either!
The average time of employment there was nine months. I stayed 12 years! While I was working there I met many wonderful people. People that deserve a Purple Heart for doing what they do. One lady Jillian, had been there for 10 years when I started. She was still there when I left. She complained about how little money she made all the time. She had to go on Workmen's Compensation for six months for an injury she sustained from one of the residents and she became bankrupt. She came back and worked extra shifts.
After several years on the day shift, I decided to work overnights and go back to school. After a seven year absence, it was hard to get back into study mode. I decided I wanted to work for a D.A. like Ben Stone on "Law and Order." I wanted to get justice for people. I majored in Paralegal Studies.
There weren't many openings for an internship and when I graduated, I didn't have any experience working in a law office. I sent out hundreds of resumes. No one would hire me. I had to go back into the field I had most of my experience in...Which was health care.
I was hired as a Residential Manager at a house in Stony Brook, New York. There were 10 adult residents: five were developmentally disabled and fivs had mental health issues. Within the first week I had to completely reorganize the office. Nothing was current. Nothing was organized. The files on the computer were organized. The financial books were a mess.
The residents had an allowance from the state which they had to spend by a certain time. They hadn't been taken shopping for clothing, toiletries, linens, new furniture for years! I had to spend this money as soon as possible.
We took inventory on each resident. The next week, my assistant manager Carol and I went shopping. We bought each of them a new winter wardrobe, new mattresses, bedding and linens. We decorated each room in their favorite colors with posters of either cartoons and teen idols. We brought them with us for "community exposure" which many of them had not been out in a very long time except to go to day treatment (similar to school except they were adults so they call it "treatment.")
After a year of being on call 24 hours a day seven days a week, and getting beeped by staff members to "buy milk for the house" (which was ridiculous, my beeper was supposed to be for emergencies only) I decided to resign. I loved the job but it just became too exhausting. I did continue to work for that agency as a part time weekend direct support professional.
A friend of mine that was the manager, begged me to help her out. Her house and my house were mysteriously understaffed by the staffing coordinator who was responsible for providing us with staff when our regular staff called out. Whenever we tried to recruit staff ourselves she got angry.
After about four months, I got a full time position as a recreation therapy assistant at a very well known huge assisted living and nursing home facility. I worked in the Alzheimer's unit. I was responsible for doing therapeutic recreation with the residents all day.
The residents were very affluent and almost immediately I learned that the administration's main concern was filling beds. They treated the residents like royalty until hey ran out of money then their families were given a letter stating that they had to get out by next month. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my residents.
They were hilarious, but i realized I wasn't really helping anyone. I wanted to do something more. Something more significant and more real. I realized I needed to get my Bachelor's degree.
I wanted to help whole groups of people. Not just individuals. I wanted to work in social services. There are so many different job titles in this field so there isn't one title that I have in mind. All I know is I want to help as many under-privileged people as I can.