Carrie Schmitt

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When I think about the relationships I have built with my participants, it brings me great joy. I think about how I may never have had any interaction with these wonderful people, if not for my job working for Paraquad.

Paraquad is known for truly caring about participants. In the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program, we talk to our participants monthly and visit them every three months in their homes. If they are unable to do a monthly phone contact, we visit them in their home every month.

We take a lot of pride in the fact that we have the opportunity to really get to know our participants and foster great relationships with them. This includes not only supporting them as they maintain the CDS program but also working toward any other goals they may want to achieve to help them live independently in the community.

I have worked at Paraquad for almost seven years. When I first started, I had just met my husband. So while working here, I got engaged, got married and had two children. During these events, my participants genuinely shared in my joy, and I shared in theirs. I am honored that my participants remember my phone number and keep in touch.

A former participant I worked with, who has not received services from us in several years, contacts me every few months to see how I’m doing. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to impact someone’s life in the way we are honored to with our participants. For me, there is no better feeling than to hear from someone who no longer receives services from us but wants to share their accomplishments, joys or even sorrows with us.

It really hit me how much we can mean to our participants when I received a phone call from a former personal care attendant who informed me that her mother, with whom I worked for five years, suddenly passed away. I was devastated to hear this because I had just spoken to the attendant, and the participant had been doing better. I was invited to attend her funeral and have attended several funerals of former participants because I want to, not because I have to.

When I tell people what I do for a living, I take pride in saying that I get the chance to truly help people by providing them with resources to increase their independence. Our participants have so much pride when they are able to accomplish a goal they have worked hard toward and they share their joy with us.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know my participants on a more personal basis and let them know that I am truly invested in their success.

Carrie Schmitt is a Consumer Directed Services (CDS) Supervisor at Paraquad. She can be reached at cschmitt@paraquad.org.

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