The Caring Force Blog August 2023 Workforce Hero: Tatiana Salinas

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our August TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Tatiana Salinas, a Bilingual (Spanish) Community Outreach Specialist at the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC). She plays a critical role in assisting the MDSC in supporting the needs of families with special attention to outreach and support to all families, including Spanish-speaking families. She also assists the MDSC with coordinating New Family Socials, MDSC support groups and other MDSC events.

1. Tell us about your background. How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

I am originally from Bolivia of Hispanic descent and have lived in MA for the past 16 years. First, I came to the US as an exchange student for my undergraduate degree in business administration. Currently, I am a graduate candidate for a masters in industrial and organizational psychology at Harvard Extension School and plan to graduate in the near future.

In my past professional experience, I have worked in human resources and finance. I was also a social entrepreneur contributing to an emerging industrial sector in Bolivia. I have had experience in fields such as banking and also worked in the energy industry at National Grid for a few years in Waltham, MA.

Currently, I have been serving for almost three years at a nonprofit organization as the Bilingual (Spanish) Family Support Specialist at the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC). In this role, I provide information, guidance and support to families of children with Down syndrome, with a special focus on Spanish-speaking families.

In my individual research I have always been inclined to concentrate on enhancing human potential. For my thesis I proposed a model for Employee-Employer Relationship Building based on human resources and behavioral studies. My research has driven me to discover, train and engage employees to develop their capabilities and talents.

Inspired by my child with special needs, I have concentrated my studies in fields such as psychology and human behavior. I live by enhancing human potential and strongly believe in abilities, capabilities and talents in people. I have been an avid advocate for my child’s potential and that strength has also led me to actively support other families in our community through the work that I do. I have been privileged to support the great organization that I represent now. I wanted to get more involved in serving our community and bettering the lives of people with Down syndrome and supporting their families.

I first connected with MDSC as an expectant parent and met our amazing Family Support Director. The warmth and welcoming approach to the community impacted my entire family in such a meaningful way. Eventually, I became a volunteer for the amazing initiatives of the MDSC’s Parents First Call Program, which supports new and expectant parents. Being in close connection with MDSC, we began discussing bringing more opportunities and resources for Spanish-speaking families with Hispanic background. MDSC, which is always on top of the needs in providing resources to people in need, opened the position where I could serve the Hispanic community statewide to support outreach and identify initiatives to provide resources in Spanish. Connection with other parents and being able to foster stronger relationships with families is one of the most valuable opportunities that MDSC facilitates. Those connections help families bond,  develop friendships and serve to bring them closer and not feeling alone in this journey.

I love working with the MDSC because we have a great caring bond as a team and all have the same devotion to providing information and support to the Down syndrome community.

2. What does a typical day look like for you at your organization?

Every day, I meet or talk with new families and it is one of the most rewarding experiences for me. Parents can feel many emotions at once and being able to  listen, validate their concerns and give them hope for the future is very fulfilling. I realize how sensitive and impactful our approach can be and expressing a caring connection is vital.

I organize gatherings and networking opportunities and plan educational workshops and webinars for families. I also lead and support MDSC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.

Our goal is to ensure families have the information, guidance and support they need to ensure their children with Down syndrome have every opportunity for a meaningful, fulfilling life.

3. What is your favorite professional memory?

Seeing our families engage with each other and feel like they have the support they need is very meaningful for me. I enjoy seeing children playing, bonding and having fun together. Family gatherings always have a special place in my heart because everyone connects in a meaningful way.

Being able to organize these events and gatherings is special to me. I especially have fond memories of our summer outings, such as our trips to Castle Island. Families spend the day in a picnic setting, enjoy activities together and stop for ice cream, enjoy the beach or a walk afterwards.

4. This question is from our July TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Aretha Maugé: When things are not going well in your life, how do you apply self-care to bring yourself back to a positive moment?

It is important to take time for myself with quiet moments for recharging and reflecting, such as running and listening to music. I used to run professionally and every time I get to run it reminds me of the great times and is a peaceful experience. I also enjoy reading and learning new things and engaging in my studies. I am an avid learner, and for me, developing my own potential and enriching my knowledge is something I cherish to include in my spare time.

5. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?

Can you reflect on the things you are most proud of that you and your organization have accomplished together?

Thank you so much to Tatiana and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.

Best wishes,

Caroline O’Neill

Project Manager

The Caring Force

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