Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcoming the peace of Christmas

Marisa Geitner and Grandma Favro

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

Some of my most meaningful Christmas memories revolve around Grandma Favro. She lived about six hours away so she would come for extended visits in the summer and at Christmas – her favorite time of the year.

My brothers and I would all be busy with the hustle of the season while Grandma sat for what seemed like hours in front of the tree. Sometimes as we passed by the living room she’d pat the seat next to her on the couch and ask us to sit and look at the lights. She’d invite us to be still.

I always remember the times I did sit, the times I slowed down enough to welcome the peace of Christmas. And I think of that every year when my to-do list gets long and the noise of the season gets loud.

I make it a point to seek silence, to find quiet times to be present in the moment and present with God. That’s my wish for you this year, too. 

May you find time this year to unwrap the gift of Christmas. May you find peace.

Grandma Favro gave Marisa an angel the year she was born. It always sits on top of the Christmas tree.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful for the hands that serve

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

I started this year writing about family traditions and about the traditions that matter the most to us here at Heritage Christian. It’s only fitting that as we turn to this season of giving thanks that I’d count our tradition of compassionate care as one of things I appreciate the most.

We make it a point to hire the best people we can, but our employees have a choice in how they serve. For most of them, that choice is to serve with patience and dignity and love. They don’t just show up and coast through their shifts. They show up to make a difference.

And that’s what I’m thankful for, for the hearts and hands that serve here. For a glimpse inside those kind hearts, keep reading…

When I began working at Heritage it was just a job for me. I thought just for a short while, as I was finishing my degree. When you care for someone completely you can’t help but get involved in their lives and want to make a difference. In making their dreams and hopes come true I now better understand how to make things happen for myself and overall how to be a happier person. A true caregiver. I don’t think that part of me will ever change. To serve here means to care, care about people, care about independence, care about compassion and most of all care for yourself and your family better. – Emma Lange, direct support professional at the home on Clover Street

Eilleen Mendez and Maria Sanchez
It has been a humbling experience to have worked at Heritage Christian the past five years. It is like the analogy of a seed being nurtured and blossoming!  I have stayed at Heritage Christian because of the fulfillment that I feel in doing Christ’s work in action by being the hands,  the eyes,  the legs, and the voice of supporting the individuals that I have been blessed to know and support. – Maria Sanchez, assistant manager at the Nine Mile Point day program 

Sam Weinberg and Kelly Odrzywolski

I look forward to working with the young man I support each day. He always greets me with a big smile and says, "Hi Kelly!" As a habilitation specialist I get to go to fun places with Sam during the week as well as work on any skills around the house he would like to learn. It makes me feel good about myself to know I am making a difference in someone else's life and at Heritage Christian I feel that my work doesn't go unnoticed. – Kelly Odrzywolski, community habilitation specialist 

I feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do. I like helping people learn new skills so they can become more independent, and I enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with the people we support and their families. – Jennifer D’Addario, direct support professional at the home on South Forest

Carlton Maxwell
I came to Heritage Christian because I needed a flexible schedule, but shortly after getting hired I fell in love with the place and the individuals and Heritage became like a second home to me. I enjoy seeing the individuals grow and overcome obstacles that many feel they couldn’t do. I have been afforded the opportunity to learn and grow in a field that I knew nothing about. What gave me the confidence to stay was the values of Heritage Christian and knowing I already had these qualities in me and Heritage was just asking me to combine my values with theirs. – Carlton Maxwell, assistant manager at the home on Larwood

Monday, October 7, 2013

Making sure people and relationships are the focus

We’ve talked a lot this year about the Heritage Christian difference and about how our compassionate culture influences the way we serve. Now, we’d like you to hear from someone who understands the importance of relationships and living out our values: Jennifer Clark, manager at the home on Five Mile Line. 

Jennifer Clark
I have been working with Heritage Christian Services for over 14 years now and have been blessed to share my special gifts, talents and interests in so many ways. I turned some ladies onto the wonderful world of craft shows and now they attend several shows annually and shop for gifts for their friends and family. I have been able to help another actually create and sell jewelry. I love photography and have been able to share that assisting some individuals to create life long memories in scrapbooks, as gifts for their loved ones or themselves. I share pieces of me and my passions in life all of the time with my co-workers and the folks I am blessed to support. We are fortunate to be a part of a great environment that encourages us to share these types of things.

Part of the way I choose to express myself as a person is through my tattoos. I have five and each one holds special meaning to me. They represent love, loss and my dreams. They show the world a bit about who I am. I have always understood however that when I am at work it is my job to help the people I support to shine, be who they are as individuals and be the focus of whatever activity, appointment or outing I am supporting them on.  In order to do this effectively I need to blend into the background, be unnoticed if at all possible. If I cannot go unnoticed then I at the very least want to be noticed for my professionalism. 
One of Jennifer Clark's tattoos is a Claddagh. One hand represents her, while the other represents her brother. The heart symbolizes the love they share, and the crown means they will always be loyal to that love.