What’s Your Why? Erica Haven
For the past three years, Erica Haven has had the privilege of being a part of the St. Joseph Home family while working as a DSP at our Day Program in Blue Ash. Before taking the job at St. Joseph Home, Erica had a deep well of experiences with children, seniors, and children with disabilities already and these experiences started at a young age. In middle school, Erica volunteered a free period in her school schedule to work with the kids who had physical or mental disabilities. She loved that experience and the feeling she had when she was with them still sticks with her. From then on, it seemed like her career path was continuously circling back to disability work. After a co-worker of hers recommended she apply for a job here, she went for it and got it.
As a Day Program DSP, Erica interacts with participants in various settings, such as their daily activities at the program and the explorations they get to go on. Explorations are Erica’s favorite thing to do with the residents because many of the participants really enjoy the chance to get out and go somewhere new. She finds seeing the smiles on their faces to be the best part. Just as we all get tired of doing and seeing the same things every day, so do the individuals involved in our day program. This is why Erica believes that community explorations are a great opportunity to add meaning and variety to their lives. Erica notes that while there are some hiccups here and there while on explorations, most experiences have been pleasant, with most sites they visit being kind and open to accommodating the different interests of our participants.
When asked what kinds of things she has learned to value more while working at St. Joseph Home, Erica responded, “It is important to have an open mind and embrace all of those around you. Even if it takes a bit more time or some extra compassion – taking the time to get to know people, accept them, and make them feel good about themselves is a process I value and always want to improve upon.” Erica believes all people can benefit from having an open mind and recognizing that we are all equal beings with mostly minor differences. We all want to feel loved, important, and a part of something bigger, like a community, and she knows and believes she can do that with day program participants. For those who are looking to do more or get involved, Erica suggests first practicing mindfulness and being open to the idea of new experiences and people. Once that happens, people can find where they fit in or find an organization that is meaningful to them before volunteering. By volunteering just a few minutes a week or so means that anyone can become a familiar face to loving people who value your friendship. All it takes is the ability to be present and communicate with them to create a bond that both will value for life.
Throughout 2019, St. Joseph Home will focus on the question of WHY in relation to its staff and volunteers. The staff and volunteers who have worked alongside our residents have learned from and shared experiences with them, gaining different perspectives about what it means to be part of something greater than themselves. While St. Joseph Home is known for creating a community where all individuals can be embraced for their dreams and abilities, there is always much more to learn about and be inspired by when it comes to the individuals we serve. Spreading knowledge is imperative for creating an inclusive attitude and this is our chance to share with you and many others WHY we do what we do each and every day. Please enjoy our “What’s Your Why?” Blog throughout this year.