The Caring Force Blog Workforce Hero Spotlight: Maryellen Lassalle

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our next TCF Hero Spotlight honoree is Maryellen Lassalle, a site manager at Berkshire County Arc with 18 years of experience in human services. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Maryellen stepped up and volunteered her time to manage a quarantined residence. When her daughters demurred, she told them that “Any one of us could be in that situation. If it were my parents, I’d have to do this for them. It could be me in a few years.”

Here is what Maryellen had to say when we asked about her career in human services:

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

“Around age 11, I lived near two nursing homes and volunteered to pass out snacks to patients with assistance from the nurses. From there, I knew that I wanted to help others, and a few years later, I started working at a homeless shelter. I enjoyed that as well, but I wanted more, so I took a Certified Nursing Assistant course. I became a C.N.A and worked at a nursing home setting for 12 years until I moved to the Rehab department for four years. Finally, I came to Berkshire County Arc to work with individuals with brain injuries and I absolutely LOVE it!”

What about your job brings you joy?

“I just love the fact that I can help people who are no longer able to take care of themselves. Some patients don’t have anyone but the caregivers that take care of them on a daily basis. I treat all my patients the same, with a lot of extra love, to make sure that they are happy with a smile. It makes my day knowing that I made someone else’s day a little brighter.”

Your work has been impacted a lot by the pandemic, how have you coped with this challenge?

“Now that we are all in this pandemic, my work has changed in many ways. I’ve explained to the individuals with brain injuries that we will have to do more activities inside, instead of being out in the community, and how this might be the new normal for months. I’ve been making sure that all staff coming in for their scheduled shifts do not have any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus before entering the site and making sure this doesn’t spread to any staff or individuals.

We are coping with this by keeping the individuals busy with indoor arts and crafts, daily walks outside for fresh air and, playing music instead of watching the news. Every day is a new challenge when coming to work. You just want to keep your individuals and staff safe during this pandemic. There’s a lot of reminders to wash hands, sanitize all surfaces and wear PPE.”

Do you have a question for the next spotlight honoree?

“Share with us how you have gotten though the most challenging work day during this pandemic.”

Thank you to Maryellen 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!

The Caring Force will be publishing additional workforce spotlights through the pandemic in an effort to raise the voices of workers on the front lines. If you know someone who inspires clients and embodies the spirit of The Caring Force, please nominate them by emailing Ravi Simon at rsimon@providers.org.

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