The Caring Force Blog March 2024 Workforce Hero: Paul Paige

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our March TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Paul Paige, a Program Coordinator for the Forsberg Program at Ascentria Care Alliance.

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

In my professional journey spanning over three decades, I have acquired a diverse skill set and extensive experience in both military service and the culinary arts before transitioning to the field of human services. With nine years of service in the United States Navy, I held the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer, specializing as an Aviation Electricians mate and Aircrew man. During my tenure, I had the privilege of flying aboard the final C-121 Super Constellation in military history and serving as a Crew Chief on an A-3 Electronic Warfare Aircraft. Furthermore, my culinary background stems from a family-owned restaurant where I honed my craft over 30 years. In the late 1980s, I commenced my journey in human services by collaborating with three distinct agencies in central Massachusetts. Initially, I provided residential care for individuals with dual diagnoses before transitioning to a more intense, violence-focused residential program. After two years, I returned to the food industry before ultimately joining Ascentria nearly a decade ago. Motivated by a desire to contribute to my community following the loss of my spouse to cancer, I embarked on a career as a caseworker in the Forsberg Disability Program. Over the course of ten years, I have ascended through the ranks, assuming roles such as Senior Caseworker, Program Coordinator, and Program Coordinator/Office Supervisor.

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

My daily routine commences with addressing emails from my home office while enjoying a cup of morning coffee. Prior to regular business hours, I endeavor to fulfill administrative responsibilities to ensure a seamless transition into the workday. Depending on the workload, I may choose to work remotely or from the office. I commence by liaising with my team, providing mentorship to newer staff members, and coordinating communication channels with clients, staff, and external providers, including our primary funder. Throughout the day, I am tasked with troubleshooting emergent issues and assisting staff in problem resolution while providing direct support to assigned clients, particularly those with behavioral complexities. Directly supervising four caseworkers and overseeing approximately 70 clients in the Worcester program, I also extend support to the South Valley program when required.

3. What is your favorite professional memory?

Reflecting on my 16-year tenure in human services, two particular memories stand out, both of which occurred during my time at Ascentria. One poignant moment transpired when a client, while riding in my vehicle after a shopping excursion, expressed profound gratitude, remarking, “Paul, I wouldn’t have known what I would have done if you hadn’t come into my life.” Witnessing such a heartfelt acknowledgment underscored the profound impact we can have on individuals’ lives. Another significant achievement involved supporting a client who transitioned from a reclusive, non-social existence to becoming one of our most engaged and involved program participants. This individual now serves as a spokesperson for our program, sharing his journey through video sequences and actively participating in activities such as Special Olympics bowling, where he achieved third place in individual competition.

4. This question is from our April TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Sydney Carter: Sustainability is crucial to human service workers. What does sustainability look like to you, and how do you stay grounded in your work?

Sustainability lies at the core of our success in serving clients within the human services realm. It necessitates vigilance and foresight to anticipate the evolving needs of our clientele, often requiring swift decision-making with lasting implications. Upholding robust work ethics and fostering ongoing training initiatives serve as foundational elements for sustaining our efforts. Moreover, instilling a sense of purpose, both among team members and clients alike, is paramount. Personally, my faith as a Seventh-day Adventist and my profound connection with my faith community provide grounding amidst the challenges of this field. Additionally, I place immense trust in my mentor, who also serves as my director, for guiding me along this journey of professional growth and development.

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

Self-preservation is very important for taking care of your health while working in the human services field. How do you maintain your self-health in order to maintain self-preservation?

Self-preservation is imperative for maintaining optimal well-being in the demanding field of human services. To ensure continuous effectiveness, I prioritize various strategies aimed at sustaining my personal health and resilience. Engaging in regular physical exercise, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and fostering hobbies and interests outside of work serve as vital outlets for rejuvenation. Cultivating a strong support network comprising colleagues, friends, and family members enables me to navigate the emotional complexities inherent in this profession. Furthermore, setting boundaries and practicing self-compassion are integral aspects of maintaining self-health and, by extension, delivering high-quality care to those we serve.

Thank you so much to Paul 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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