Today's post features Jennifer Meagher, who works as a Team Lead for Community Day Supports at Easter Seals Crossroads. Jennifer became involved with Easter Seals Crossroads through her college sorority, which led her to the unique opportunity to become a mentor.
Name: Jennifer Meagher
Education: North Central High School, Ball State University - Bachelor of Social Work. I’m hoping to be accepted into a graduate program at IUPUI this summer.
Date joined Easter Seals Crossroads: August 2014
How did you hear about Easter Seals Crossroads?
In college, one of my sorority’s philanthropies was Easter Seals. I didn’t know much about the organization until I joined the sorority. I have always been passionate about working with people who have disabilities. After I completed college I decided to look into Indianapolis’s chapter of Easter Seals. I found Crossroads and thought it would be a good fit.
What is your favorite part of being a team lead?
I enjoy getting to know each consumer individually. I like learning about their interests and skills. This allows for me to provide more in depth person centered services.
What does a typical week look like for you and your mentee? Describe the activities you do/go to, what you do there, and why these activities are important for your mentee.
I currently work with five different consumers in the community and one charter school student who participates in the NEXT Project. Each day is different as the individuals have different needs, goals, and interests.
Monday: In the morning I see a person who has goals that focus on socialization. Most of his activities include community integration that allows him to interact with others. These have included eating out at restaurants, visiting museums, and browsing around stores. Each of these outings gives him the opportunity to practice appropriate communication with others.
Tuesday: I see an individual who has been volunteering at a day center for the homeless. This individual works in the kitchen. He sets out food for breakfast, cleans the kitchen area, washes the dishes, greets the homeless, and prepares lunch. In this position he practices social skills, following directions, initiating and focusing on tasks, and job skills. This opportunity allows him to build confidence in his abilities to successfully complete a job.
Wednesday: On Wednesday mornings I meet with a girl who has goals pertaining to exercise and creating a healthy lifestyle. She will always be given the opportunity to work out. She walks on trails and in the mall. She also uses exercise equipment, such as a treadmill. After she participates in physical activity, she will usually play a game or do a craft.
Thursday: I work with an individual who is looking for a volunteer opportunity. He hopes to improve upon his job skills. This person will benefit from working on having professional conversations, focusing on tasks, and learning new skills.
Friday: On Friday mornings I work with the same person that I do on Monday mornings.
In the afternoon I see a person who has a variety of goals ranging from safety, to exercise, to socialization. This individual participate in many activities, such as going to parks, working out in a fitness center, volunteering at a food pantry, frequenting museums, and exploring at the library.
What have you learned from being a team lead?
As a team lead, I’ve learned that it is important to treat each consumer with respect and compassion. It is essential that I listen to the people I work with and take their input into account. The consumers and I have to come to an understanding of our roles so that we can both get something out of the experience.
What is something your mentee has taught you?
Working with teenagers I have learned new slang, what is going on in pop culture, and that I do things that make me “old." On a more serious note, I have learned that each person I work with is a unique person. They all have different interests, strengths, behaviors, and personalities. Even though they are labeled as having a disability, as individuals they cannot be grouped together.
Are you interested in becoming a team lead like Jennifer? Read more about Community Day Supports or visit our job opportunities page to apply for the Community Team Lead position!