It's My Job: Lending a hand
Sharon Christensen-Clark and Nicole Atherton fold fliers together in the Creative Care for Reaching Independence office in Moorhead. For Christensen-Clark, a professional caregiver for CCRI, it's a chance to make some extra money while working a ...
Sharon Christensen-Clark and Nicole Atherton fold fliers together in the Creative Care for Reaching Independence office in Moorhead.
For Christensen-Clark, a professional caregiver for CCRI, it's a chance to make some extra money while working a rewarding job. For Atherton, a CCRI client, it's an opportunity to be independent.
CCRI provides support services for people with disabilities. The nonprofit organization serves about 330 people in Clay County and employs 450 people, most on a part-time basis.
Christensen-Clark has been a part-time caregiver for nearly three years.
"Twenty, 30 years ago, a lot of people were either put in group homes or institutions," she said. "They didn't have their independence. Now we're giving them that opportunity."
Q: What made you decide to work for CCRI?
A: Two reasons: First, I needed additional money, and it was a great opportunity for part-time employment, and second of all because my primary job is working with students with special needs. It kind of carried over from that.
What hours do you work?
I work the hours that I set up that I'm available to work, and that's what's so awesome about working for CCRI. You tell them when you can and cannot work, and they will only schedule you for clients who fit into your schedule.
I do some afternoons after school, weekends and some evenings.
What is a typical shift like for you?
There isn't a typical one.
All clients have goals that they either set with their supervisor, or some of the goals are set by their parents or guardians.
What I do on a typical shift are things toward reaching those goals. Some of them might be getting out in the community, which is simply going to the library, going shopping, going to a movie, going to the mall.
Clients sometimes fear leaving their apartment or house. It's good to get them out, even if it's just to the grocery store. I had a client who I got to go to the movie theater, and she hadn't been in years. She was afraid to go. We went, and she just had a ball. She was just so thrilled with it, and she talked about it for months.
Others would have goals like planning and preparing a healthy meal, where you actually start with the newspaper and look for what's on sale this week and then making a shopping list and going grocery shopping. Some shifts might include cooking that meal.
Some shifts include helping and encouraging a house or an apartment to be cleaned.
I have several clients who have financial goals. They're trying to stay on top of their finances.
We can make our suggestions. They're not always followed. We're there to point them in the right direction.
Do you tend to work with the same clients?
I do have some clients I see regularly. You pick up an extra client here or there if their staff person is on vacation.
Do you develop relationships with your clients?
Yes, definitely. I think it would be impossible not to. We have to be careful not to cross boundaries and keep the relationships on a professional level. But you certainly do develop relationships. You care about them, and you hurt for them when they're hurting, and if they're not reaching their goals, you have the same frustrations they have. When they have a wonderful experience, you take joy in that as well.
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Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526