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My Turn, Vernon Walters: Give thanks to direct care staff

Columnist

Vernon Walters

By Vernon Walters

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child.

That is certainly a concept we understand all too well at Nazareth Child & Family Connection.

Taking care of and providing for the 40 to 50 residents we have at any given time is a team effort. From counselors to cooks, administrators and direct care staff, it takes a large, efficient and effective group to help shape the young lives whose futures depend on us.

We have been very fortunate over the years to have amazing employees to help our residents write wonderful success stories with their lives. Every year, we have several residents graduate from local high schools and move on to college, trade school or a job in our community. Whatever the next step in their lives may be, we do our very best to make sure they are prepared.

We are big believers in teaching life skills, making sure those entrusted to our care learn the basics of navigating life successfully.

Be it something as simple as manners or as complex as balancing a checkbook or purchasing insurance, we believe it is vitally important for these youth to be prepared to become contributing, successful members of our community.

One of the most vital roles in this process are our direct care staff.

There is a direct care staff member in each of our five homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their job is truly like a parent. Sure, they are the disciplinarians in each house, but they are also the consoler-in-chief, providing a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen to each of the residents in their care.

They also make sure homework is done, schedules are met, rooms are cleaned and everyone is in bed on time and up and ready for school every morning.

The importance of direct care staff to Nazareth or any other facility like ours is unparalleled. If we have don’t have staffing for a house, we have to temporarily shutter that house until the position is filled. That could mean we would have to turn children away.

If you know someone who serves as a direct care staff member anywhere, please thank them and maybe give them a hug the next time you see them. Theirs is a thankless job, but it’s job that changes young lives every day.

For them, we all should be thankful.

Vernon Walters has been the president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection, based in Rockwell, for more than two decades.

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