The Caring Force Blog January Workforce Hero: Debbie Eldred

The Caring Force is excited to announce that our January Workforce Hero is Debbie Eldred, a service manager for Bridgewell’s Kelly J. Martin Day Habilitation Program.

Debbie has worked for Bridgewell for eight years, starting as a classroom aide. She is known for her caring nature, her ability to be a fierce advocate for the individuals with whom she works and her dedication to support all who need a helping hand. Debbie has consistently brought joy to her program and individuals through her creation and coordination of the annual holiday concert in December and the delicious Thanksgiving dinner she cooks and serves every November.  When day habilitation programs shut down on March 17, Debbie willingly transitioned to working in a residential home, bringing with her the same enthusiasm and passion she puts into her job each and every day.

We asked Debbie about her job:

How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

“The human service field and caring for others has always been a part of my personal and professional life. I worked in residential settings, as well as picked up PCA hours, since the 1980s. Soon after, when I was starting a family of my own, I decided to become a licensed child care provider, in order to be home with my family. When my kids were old enough, I went back to picking up PCA hours and then eventually settling into my role at Bridgewell’s day program, first as a classroom aide and now in my current role as a classroom room service manager.”

How have you coped with the challenges of the pandemic?

“I was one of many staff who was deployed to residential homes with less than 24-hour notice. With all the uncertainty and fears, my first thought was how could I support and care for this population as if they were my own family. I have always been a strong advocate and communicator for the people I support, but this really became important while navigating the unknown challenges and daily changes of the pandemic. I have support systems in and out of work, which got me through some of the hardest times in my professional career.”

How are you able to relax and rejuvenate from the mental challenges of your job? 

“My advice to anyone navigating the mental challenges of working in the human service field is knowing what your outlets are and your support systems, and I also encourage utilizing time off to recharge. I have picked up crafting as a healthy escape from it all. The people I serve are what keep me going, even on the most challenging days. Making their day and treating them how I would want to be treated is all that matters.”

Thank you to Debbie and all the other tireless staff helping to provide services to clients and families throughout the pandemic. You are the Commonwealth’s human services heroes. 

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