June 12th, 2024

City celebrates community disability services professionals

By Alex Noad for the Lethbridge Herald on May 23, 2024.

Members of the disabled community on Wednesday marched in the heart of Lethbridge dressed in yellow to celebrate their support workers.
Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services, announced this spring that the third week of May would be recognized as Community Disability Service Professional Appreciation week.
To celebrate, members from Quest, Ability, Southern Alberta Community Living Association (SACLA) and Edenbridge met at City Hall and walked to Casa where thanks were given through speeches followed by a dance party.
In a heartfelt speech, Preston Neumann, a client of Quest Services, said he has been able to thrive because of the support he has received.
“I have developed confidence and skills and have gained meaningful employment as a peer mentor,” said Neumann.
Neumann went on to give specific examples of how the workers have helped him, whether it was assisting him with doctor appointments or playing pool and having a fun time.
According to the Alberta Disability Worker Association, there are approximately 15,000 support workers in Alberta.
Danny Gharzeddine has been a support worker for over a year. He says it has been inspiring to see the impact he has on the individuals’ lives.
“Seeing the impact we can have our individuals and seeing what kind of growth they go through during their time at Quest. It feels really good to be able to hang out with our individuals all day make an impact on them,” said Gharzeddine.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen addressed the support workers saying the work they do is more impactful than just a job.
“Your tireless efforts create pathways to independence, dignity and equality for everyone you work with. Your job is not just a job, in my opinion, it’s absolutely a calling and it makes our community stronger. I can’t thank you enough for your contributions. They make Lethbridge absolutely a better place to live,” said Hyggen.
Julie Lutz, the Associate Director of Individual Care at Quest, says she watches the support workers put their heart into work every day to make a difference in the clients’ lives.
“I can’t thank the frontline staff enough. They give their hearts and souls every day. This is a job where you give, give, give and sometimes you receive, receive, receive, but it’s a whole lot of giving,” said Lutz
Gharzeddine says he has learned a lot about effective communication from working at Quest.
“All of the differences between individual to individual. It’s been very eye opening to figure out how many ways I have to change the way I approach individuals and the way we communicate,” said Gharzeddine.
Lutz expressed how much fun she gets to have with the individuals while helping them become the best version of themselves.
“I would say that being a community disability professional is 90% fun and 10% not fun. You come to work and you just have to have a positive attitude and you get to have fun and help individuals have success,” said Lutz
For Gharzeddine being a community disability professional has been an extremely rewarding experience
“I don’t know where I’d be if I wasn’t working where I’m working. It’s definitely the most fulfilling work ever.”

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