Lending a helping hand: CCRI employees juggle roles at work and at homeMOORHEAD - Nicole Carlson and Patty Pemble are 24/7 caregivers. Both are moms and professional caregivers with Creative Care for Reaching Independence.
By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM
Where: 725 Center Ave., Suite 7, Moorhead
Contact: (218) 236-6730 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MOORHEAD - Nicole Carlson and Patty Pemble are 24/7 caregivers.
Both are moms and professional caregivers with Creative Care for Reaching Independence.
CCRI provides the flexibility they need to meet the needs of both roles, which often overlap.
“I get the best of both worlds: I work 40 hours a week and I’m basically a stay-at-home mom,” Carlson says.
The nonprofit’s employees help people with disabilities with daily living skills, self-reliance and community participation.
Carlson and Pemble learn from their kids and clients, too.
“CCRI has been my whole life. I’ve been there almost 10 years now,” Carlson says.
The 34-year-old Fargo woman was hired in September 2002 while pursuing a social work degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Pemble has been employed with CCRI for a little over three years. She’s also a paraprofessional in the Moorhead School District’s Outreach program.
“It’s always something different. You’re meeting new people and you’re having new experiences,” the 35-year-old Moorhead woman says of CCRI.
Carlson gets her 40 hours in a two-day period, which gives her more time with her three kids.
“My hours are really flexible, and I was able to find a position that worked for me and my family,” she says.
The flexibility allows Pemble to work two jobs, spend time with her kids and do volunteer work.
She says she’d be lost without her planner. “My daughter thinks I’m weird, but everything is highlighted and color-coordinated.”
Embrace the unexpected
To fulfill all their obligations, both women say they have to prioritize and let go of the “perfect.”
“Be patient and know sometimes things don’t always go as planned,” Pemble says.
She says she’s had to learn not to sweat the small stuff.
“Does it really matter if you have 20 pairs of shoes lying by your front door? Does it really matter if you have dishes that can be loaded? It can wait a little bit,” Pemble says.
Carlson has learned to embrace the unexpected.
“My clients and kids teach me that not everything needs to be planned or scheduled,” she says.
Carlson tries to fit in fun and laughter whenever she can, even while doing chores.
“To make sweeping more fun, my client will get the broom, I will pick up the rugs, and we of course need music, so likely there will be dancing,” she says.
Neither Carlson nor Pemble has much time to herself.
“I figure in maybe eight years when my son’s 18, then I can have time for myself,” Pemble says with a laugh.
When she’s switching between jobs and roles, Pemble tries to leave the day’s problems, concerns and worries behind.
“What can I do about it now? Nothing. Focus on now,” she says.
With both her CCRI clients and her three kids, Carlson turns situations into “teachable moments.”
“I try to teach them that it’s OK to make mistakes and that if you keep trying, you can do anything you set your mind to,” Carlson says.
Almost every night, she asks her family members to share one high of the day and one low of the day.
“It’s a way to connect on busy days,” she says.
Pemble uses some of the same skills in parenting her two children as she uses in guiding her clients.
For example, she teaches them to break tasks into small goals.
She’ll ask, “How are you going to get this done by 4:30 so we can still have an hour of fun time?”
Carlson calls herself a “developer.”
“If I see a skill that a client likes, I will try to hone in on that and try to encourage them,” she says.
Students and teachers
Caregiving has taught Carlson and Pemble gratitude and compassion.
“You really have a lot more than you think you do,” Carlson says.
She’s also working on complaining – with her kids and herself.
“Griping for no reason isn’t helpful at all. Griping with solutions is productive,” she says.
Carlson’s children have learned from growing up around individuals with disabilities.
“They know that just because somebody looks different or acts different doesn’t mean they aren’t a vital part of our society,” she says.
Both Carlson’s clients and kids teach her new things every day.
“It’s always a joy to learn and grow, and we’re all students and teachers,” she says.