The Strive for Meaning – New Faces!
By: Jessica Dunn
This past quarter brought some changes to the Program Supports Department; with those changes arrived new faces! It is my utmost pleasure to introduce you to Sarah Olson and Jen Amador, our two new Service Coordinators. We started the pursuit for a new Service Coordinator back in July of 2020. Our department decided with all of the quality that we are putting into the individual services we offer; we needed an addition to our team. Duties stretched us to the point that we began to lose personal relationships we established among individualized support connections.
This year, we are pushing to help the people we support to find meaningful goals and outcomes to achieve. Imagine being told for most of your life what is meaningful to you; before coming to Tobosa, this is the life they’ve lived. They found meaning by being complacent, fitting in, or a means to keep from being abused. We want to discover and focus on what is meaningful to (and for) them, not for their support providers. Many of the people we support obtain value in their lives by adapting to the person supporting them. It is tough, almost arduous, helping them cut through layers to truly find what makes them who they are and what pushes them to fulfillment. It is a challenge that we are willing to take on and succeed.
This task is one of many that we bestow upon our Service Coordinators, Sarah and Jen. They are here to help and support the people who know the individuals best, peel away the layers, and lay down the foundational questions that get conversations started.
When the team is at a loss, the Service Coordinators stay on top by learning new ways to support them. Sarah and Jen work towards building those relationships between the individuals and the staff to add additional support. Sometimes that means advocating for both the staff and the individuals amongst other team members or outside entities. Other times that level of support comes in the way of presenting ideas with a formal polish. The Service Coordinator also lays the groundwork for services by initiating conversations that people forget to have or are too rushed.
Making Connections, an Essential Part of the Job
Sarah has been employed with Tobosa for a short time. Still, she is not new to supporting people with developmental disabilities. Sarah is a native of Minnesota who moved to New Mexico in March of 2019 and found her way to Roswell in May of the same year.
New Chapter in Life
Some might say the events that led Sarah to the doorstep of Tobosa are pure fate. Sarah had been working for Opportunity Services in Minnesota. There, she was able to do many things to support others. Sarah worked in centers all over the state doing different duties. She drove the bus, job coached, and ran their day center activities (equivalent to our Customized Community Supports and former Day Hab program). As Sarah speaks about her former employer, she portrays a likeness to our Community Options program. Sarah has been in this particular field of support for 6 ½ years. Knowing that she loved what she did and spent almost the last decade of her life doing it, it made sense for Sarah to look for employment in her, soon to be, new home in the same line of work.
Sarah didn’t know anything about Tobosa but had applied with a competing agency. She was in the bank building and happened to step off of the elevator on the wrong floor. She found herself standing right outside of the Los Pasitos Early Intervention office, a program under Tobosa within our children’s service. The rest, as they say, is history. Sarah began working with Tobosa 4 days after her relocation to Roswell.
When Sarah began working for Tobosa, she started as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at the Sherrill Lane house. Sarah was part of the Sherrill Lane team until she took the position of Service Coordinator on 09/08/20. When asked about her favorite thing working with that team, Sarah said it is the relationships created with the individuals—realizing its impact when we are invested.
Sarah also really enjoys networking and being able to advocate for the people she supports. While working as a DSP, she became a member of the Staff Advisory Committee and the Quality Assurance Committee. Sarah found herself advocating on many different platforms for herself and other coworkers and the individuals she supported. Sarah also joined the Writer’s Group.
Writing is one of the many things that bring joy to Sarah. She is currently writing a book about a family of kids and their journey of discovering the blessings of their mother’s life. Sarah has had several blogs posted as part of the Tobosa Writer’s Group. Inspired by her recent article on recognizing people’s different abilities and the positive feedback she received, it pushed her to transform the piece into an 8 part TikTok series. Sarah confesses that TikTok is not a platform she utilizes much and states that it is mainly to post videos of Cricket, Crimson & Clover, her three adopted cats. Sarah is delighted that she is now using the platform to advocate and raise awareness for things she believes in.
In addition to writing, Sarah loves to bake and sew. She has even made several clothing protectors for people to use during mealtimes. Sarah is an enthusiastic photographer and loves anything to do with arts and crafts. When talking to Sarah about some of her personal future goals, she stated that she wants to get her baking business off the ground and finish her book. She also wants to improve her health and will be utilizing her medical team to do so.
The More You Know
I asked Sarah to describe the differences in the cultures of Minnesota and New Mexico. Sarah explained that Midwesterners are passive-aggressive, a trait she is trying to change within herself. Sarah was not hesitant to say that this job has taught her a lot about coming across in more effective ways when communicating with different people. One of the other things she mentions is her opinion that no one here knows how to drive, explaining that no one uses their turn signals. Also, in the midwest, people waved each other on to express they had the right away. Unfortunately, when Sarah tried this common (to her) practice, it went very wrong.
Here are some facts about Sarah you might find interesting. Beyond her relation to Emily Dickenson, she is left-handed. Sarah expressed that many people don’t understand the importance her hobbies hold for her. She must make somebody laugh throughout the day. Laughing and humor are staples for Sarah. One person Sarah enjoys laughing with is Jen Amador, who also thrives off others’ smiles.
Jen began her Tobosa employment in the Community Options program and started her new position on September 1st. However, we needed people to work in the Community Options program, so she stayed to help out and provide that support until others could. Jen finally started as a Service Coordinator on 11/01/20. Jen is still “new” to Tobosa compared to other people on our team. Her first anniversary was on October 1st. In talking with Jen about what brought her to Tobosa, she explained that her love of working with people started back with her career in the dental field.
When asked, Jen talks about being a dental assistant and how her work with patients has helped her transition with ease to the DD Waiver field. Her career started as a dental assistant in 2008, and she worked chairside for about three years with both children and adults. After that, Jen spent eight years working for an Albuquerque vending company that provided dental office supplies. During this time, the company afforded Jen the opportunity to do many different things: customer service, accounts receivable/collecting, and service coordination. Jen moved back to Roswell in October of 2019, Halloween, to be exact. The next month she was busy settling in and a new job with Tobosa.
Jen confessed she did a lot of observing when she first started with Tobosa. By watching and intentionally analyzing the setup of Tobosa’s services, she discovered that she liked best the center’s activities. She stated that there is constantly something for individuals to do. There is always a way for them to be connected, learn, entertain, and try different things. Jen recognized that she doesn’t have that many activities in her own life, but jokes that she would love to have projects scheduled for her in the same manner.
Working as direct employment support for Mr. Eudy, Jen was also impressed with the assistance Martin received in starting and running his business. Jen compared Martin’s proprietorship to him being a politician. She was astounded at how many people Martin knows throughout the community. Jen was able to witness relationships that Martin has had for more than 20 years.
Discussing with Jen, she was asked the biggest challenge for her thus far in her experience with Tobosa. Jen laughed and talked about the largest hurdle for her to overcome was often a lack of planning out the details of her day or situations. Being very organized herself, Jen found that working in the Community Options program consists of continually getting things thrown at you each day. Often, there is an expectation and necessity to be flexible and quick thinking instead of planning out in advance was a challenge for her.
However, she said, “you just have to adjust and run with it.” Jen went on to confess that she doesn’t like failing on any part and figuring out that she can do it and thrive in the chaos. She is not disillusioned that it took time and adjustment, but she got through it by learning to breathe and accept that you can only do the best that you can do.
Interviewing Jen wasn’t the easiest of feats. She doesn’t like talking about herself, but she has learned that vulnerability is a connection. Intimidated by talking about things that are not going so perfectly in her life, she is trying to learn that it is ok to say who you are. Jen continues to work on enhancing who she is and growing from her experiences and connections with others.
As of first snowfall, Jen discovered that she loves to drive in the snow; it was a new experience that she really enjoyed. Among other things, Jen is a dog lover. Jen had Old English Bulldogs that she had to leave in Albuquerque, but one day hopes to share her love with another furbaby. Barefoot running is also a passion of hers (not literally barefooted, but with thinner soled shoes). Jen runs every morning to clear her head and prepare for the day. Running is her “me” time and the way she practices self-care. She states she retains knowledge best while exercising, so it is not uncommon for her to read notes or other materials while doing so.
When asked what she would like others to know about her, Jen replied that she considers herself pretty simple and loves Jimmy John’s tuna sandwich and chips. Jen laughs as she explains that people have a hard time understanding how she could eat the same thing over and over every day. Her biggest pet peeve is the feeling of Deja Vu. Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” referring to living through repeated experiences such as conversations.
“Less is More”
Jen tries to remain stress-free and learns as she goes, not in the country song sense, but in grasping the bull by the horns and seeing where it leads. While talking about her near (and maybe slightly distant future), she has some goals set for herself. Jen has vowed not to create bills and to build her savings account. Jen will strive to be smarter about purchases she makes. Eventually (maybe in a five-year plan), she wants to be the owner of a Toyota 4Runner.
Jen is newly committed to taking some time for herself. Although a new concept to her, she understands that there must be a balance between the care you give yourself and the care you give to others. I love that she closed our conversation with, “I am very easygoing, and I want people to know that it is always ok with me.” She enlightened that no matter what decision someone is making, she’s ok with it and will support them. The simple words of “it is always ok with me” brought the refined wisdom that she is perfect for the Service Coordinator position.
I am very confident that both Jen and Sarah will advocate for and help others find meaning in their goals and outcomes and the services they receive. I believe that they have what it takes to be dedicated support for all of those touched by the Tobosa family. Please join us in welcoming them!