“I always felt a special connection to people with disabilities,” says Tameka Powell, a Residential Support Specialist working at the Newton group home. Working with this community for Tameka goes back to her days at Children’s Center of Monmouth County, a special-education school in Neptune, New Jersey. Although that was her first job upon graduating high school, she ended up staying there for nine years. Afterward, with Advancing Opportunities, she continued working among people with disabilities at group homes, putting in as many hours she can, not only at the Newton residence, but also filling in at other locations, as needed. In addition, she will be working at the new Jackson home when it opens this year. Tameka relishes this time. It’s what she loves to do. “I enjoy being around the consumers,” she says.
For Tameka this enjoyment comes from hard work. The residents at each group home, she says, “are like family.” It is that sentiment that guides her in “making sure they’re as comfortable as possible.” Tameka take pleasures in the challenge of “working with different types of behaviors and backgrounds.” Adds Tameka, “You need to be dedicated.”
While working at Children’s Center, Tameka decided to go back to school, eventually earning her Bachelor’s degree. So passionate is Tameka in working among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she has enrolled in the Master’s of Social Program at Monmouth University. At home, Tameka loves spending time with her sons, as well as exercising and reading.
What I do, says Tameka, “it comes from the heart.”
This article is the fourth of a continuing feature on our Direct-Support Professional of the Month program, recognizing the talents of one of our specialists in the Residential Services program. The Emerson group home will be the subject of a future article in this space.