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Through the Eyes of an Alternate

09/21/2016

In 2011, a few weeks after graduating from high school, I began working as an alternate at PCS Industries. It was my first real job, a chance to make my own paycheck. Flash forward to 2016, I’m still working as an alternate, but the respect that I feel towards the clients and their caregivers has multiplied. I’ve learned so much while being employed here at Peak Community Services.
 When I first started at Peak, I wasn’t exactly comfortable with the various types of disabilities the clients are diagnosed with. I wasn’t sure how to act around them or how to talk with them. I took my breaks and lunches in a different area unless told otherwise. It was never that I didn’t like the clients, I just hadn’t found the attitude I needed in order to successfully interact with the clients. As with anything, the longer you work at it the more comfortable you become.
 Sitting alongside the clients brought a sense of unity to my mind. Making the bundles unified us more as people than talking at lunch or breaks ever did. Working was a mutual habit between us; there were no differences in those moments because we were all working to make a paycheck. It didn’t matter the disability or the lack thereof.
 What people fail to realize is that though these clients might have disabilities, they are just like us. While some of the disabilities you’ll see are genetic, all it takes is a fraction of a second for something to go south. None of us are immune from life and life can change in an instance. Through my position as an alternate I’ve learned so many lessons. These lessons, valuable and only taught by those with disabilities, are worth far more than monetary means could cover …
By Chelsie Leigh
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