For Karen, being a Recreation Specialist for Reach is not just about earning some extra part-time income. “I look forward to seeing my friends,” she says of our participants. “I enjoy bringing my positive attitude to programs and interacting with [those we serve].”
Karen has been sharing her twinkling smile and kind spirit with the individuals we support for nearly 20 years. She first connected with us when she was a special education paraprofessional in a nearby school district. A boy in her classes who was nonverbal needed some additional support, and having heard of Reach, Karen began working with us to implement some solutions. She has since retired from her district position, but remains a Reach employee. Her “main gig” is Wednesday Night Social, but she has helped with Teen Explorers, Weekend Ventures, inclusions, and other programs, as needed.
Karen has a special way of engaging others, even when, she admits, “a little kidding around” is called for. What Karen does not joke about is the “importance of what we do,” stressing that our programs are so needed in the community.
That’s why this grandmother of four will keep bringing her energy to this work. As an employee, she appreciates the support, recognition, and training Reach prioritizes. She feels empowered to offer her own programming suggestions and is comforted by the stability and consistency of policies and the leadership structure. She has seen the benefits cell phones now offer, both with her ability as an employee to clock in for shifts and for added safety with participants often having their own. While these are all important aspects, it is simply the joy Karen experiences at our programs that not only sustains her interest, but also ricochets to those around her.