The Caring Force Blog February 2023 Workforce Hero: Christine Meiklejohn

| Caroline O'Neill

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our February TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Christine Meiklejohn, Director of ABI/MFP Residential Services at Berkshire Family and Individual Resources (BFAIR). Christine joined BFAIR as a ABI House Manager and has been promoted since. She has done an incredible job all along, especially during the pandemic and now with the challenging staffing issues the sector is facing.

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

My desire to work with people goes back as far as I can remember. When I was in school, I volunteered in programs for at-risk youth – this is where I got my first taste of what helping people could do.  It did not take long to realize that even a few minutes of attention to someone could change the entire trajectory of their future. I knew back then human services would be for me.

The first position I held was as a direct care worker within a residential facility. I worked long hours and knew, though tiring, this was what I wanted to do. I quickly signed up for as much additional training as I could and took management training as well. I would eventually become a supervisor; this change entailed running shifts outside of business hours and being responsible for the safety of all staff and students during that time.

When I started with BFAIR, I was a House Manager of a group home – something I had never experienced before. I was able to work more individually with our residents and really get to know them. This made it possible to help them be as independent as possible and give them opportunities they may not have had before. As with my past, my want to grow and make a bigger difference has lead me to be the Director of ABI/MFP Residential for BFAIR. In my position, I feel incredibly lucky every day. I continue to help not only my residents but all my staff as well. Helping to mold those direct care staff I once was is one of the most important jobs I will ever have.

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

This is a tough one – a day in residential can be anything. I might be working on transitioning someone new out of a nursing home, meeting with staff for training, or visiting the homes to ensure everything is running smoothly. The only thing that I can assure you of is that no one day will ever look like another.

3. What is your favorite professional memory?

One of the best memories I have is when I was able to take one of our residents on a long weekend to be able to join her daughter’s wedding festivities. She was able to stay in the same hotel, join the walk-through and rehearsal dinner, watch her daughter get ready, and finally married. The look of happiness on all involved will be something that stays with me forever. I was able to do that – I was able to ensure someone was right where they were supposed to be.

4. This question is from our January TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Nora Rwatangabo: What is something you wish you knew earlier in your career?

Try not to worry so much or take everything too seriously – you will mess up. You will mess up more than your OCD-self would like to admit, but at the end of the day you find a way and learn from the experience. Learned experiences are some of the most important ones in this line of work.

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

What is an obstacle you have overcome in your professional life that you are most proud of?

Thank you so much to Christine 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.

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