I immigrated to the United States from Bosnia, a country where you wouldn’t see a person with disability working or out in public. However, I quickly learned that people with disabilities are just like you and me.
In 2005, I started working at Paraquad as a personal care attendant for my coworkers with a disability that needed help with activities of daily living. I learned so much from them, and they became my friends and part of my family.
But I wanted to learn more and increase my knowledge of Paraquad and its mission, vision and values. I did, and six months later, I became a Consumer Directed Services specialist.
Being a specialist is much more than just monthly phone calls and quarterly home visits. I became a part of my participants’ routines and lives, and they become a part of mine. I always wanted to help others, no matter what. Now, I get paid to do that every day, even if it means just talking to them or lending an ear. And I see daily the passion that CDS specialists have for what they do and the commitment they have to our participants and Paraquad.
I was a specialist for about a year before I was asked to help start the attendant services department. I’ve always been one of those people who always jumps at the opportunity to help because I want to learn. At the same time, I was afraid I would do something wrong or make errors and people would laugh at me. But I had great support from my coworkers who gave me the courage to do more and be better. After 10 years working for Paraquad, I became a disability expert.
My last supervisor was (and is) an amazing person. She was one of those people who encouraged me even if I thought that I was not good enough. After she left Paraquad, I was named to her position — Director of Attendant Services — on an interim basis. I was grateful to her and so thankful that she and others in the organization thought I could do the job.
These last few months as interim director made me realize even more what a wonderful group of people we have in the CDS department. Each of them is helpful and supports me when I make a decision.
I wrote this to thank each of them for what they do for our participants every day. And also I wanted to thank my former supervisor for giving me the opportunity to do this job and for believing in me.
Senija Bajric is the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) Attendant Services Manager at Paraquad. She can be reached at email@example.com.