Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Learning about citizenship for all

By Marisa Geitner, president & C.E.O. of Heritage Christian Services

I’m committed to being a lifelong learner. I celebrate accomplishments, but I always search for ways to grow and improve – especially when it comes to the way we partner with people who are in need of our supports and services.  That’s why at Heritage Christian we’ve dedicated time and resources for some of our staff members to take an online course in Citizen Centered Leadership.

In the course, they learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, of belonging within a community, and they learn alongside those who receive services from our agency. For example, Joanie Parker, director of day services, and Tina Crandall, who is employed by Heritage Christian and also benefits from some of our services, meet weekly to discuss what they are learning and how our supports could improve.

“We look for things that are different in her life and mine that don’t need to be,” Joanie said while Tina nodded. Things like waiting until it is your turn to go out for the evening or having other people make doctors’ appointments for you when you’re capable of doing it on your own.

“I’m learning to speak up about myself,” said Tina, who likes to please people, even if it means she doesn’t get what she wants. “I want to run my own life.”

Already, Tina has told her parents and the people who work at her home that she wants to take a more active role in making decisions and start volunteering on her days off.

“It is helping me to be myself,” she said.

And that’s worth the extra studying and additional time. It’s worth it to all of us.

If you are interested in joining the conversation about citizenship, we’ll be hosting very casual “lunch and learns” every fourth Friday at both the main office and the regional office. Bring your lunch and we’ll start at noon.