The Emory Valley Center has worked for more than 60 years to lend a hand to those with special needs.
Those helping hands often come in many forms; education, employment, preparing for a job and the list goes on, as does the increasing number of folks who are on the receiving end.
“I”m just supporting Ollie and things he likes to do,” said direct support professional Miranda McLain. “He likes to be out in the community and some of his goals are to make new friends so that’s kind of what we do when we go out in the community.”
The special bond formed between McLain and Ollie is one of the many roles the Emory Valley Center plays in meeting the needs of those with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in East Tennessee.
“It’s one of the most rewarding jobs, you can’t get this kind of feeling from any other job until you’ve worked with the individuals we work with,” said McLain, who’s worked with Ollie for close to a year now – though it should hardly be called work. “You kind of pick up on his means of communication that some people might not understand until you’ve been with him the full time.”
Getting on the same wavelength with Ollie didn’t happen overnight.
“Just because he has limited speaking ability doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a personality or doesn’t have desires and goals,” said McLain.
Ollie used to always want to walk behind McLain, but now he’s by her side or even guiding the way, paving a path for Ollie to find his own – using soft skills many take for granted.
“They teach you how to let the person make the choices, let them make their own decisions about their life instead of us – the direct service workers – always making the decisions,” explained McLain, who would rather assist Ollie on his life journey of finding those likes and dislikes.
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