Meet Virginia Velez, a personal care attendant who has been providing care to people for over 23 years! Virginia was kind enough to do an interview with CRI CIL staff and talk about her passion for caring!! We hope you enjoy the interview!
Q: How long have you worked as personal care attendant (PCA)?
"I have been working for 23 wonderful years, I love every minute of it and I love the people I work for. It brings me joy and happiness to know that I can make a difference in their lives."
Q: Why did you want to become a PCA?
" I enjoy the work and I like the people. I like that we have the ability to help others, help them to relax and have less stress. That is why I am there to relieve them of their stresses."
Q: Is there is anything that excites you about coming into work each day?
"What excites me is coming into work and seeing my consumers. It makes me happy to see the consumers be well. To see the progress of them getting better is the most beautiful thing in the world to see. To see them getting better each day and getting to be a part of their lives means the world to me. I enjoying being a part of their progress, and I love to see them learn and to see their different stages play out is beautiful."
Q: If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?
"If I could tell my younger self anything it would be to prepare more. Study more, and have more knowledge on how to be more professional in my profession."
Q: Which one was easier to learn; hands on material or reading material?
" I believe that hands on training is the key to learning. My ability to concentrate when reading is harder than it is to participate in hands on material. When reading the material it can be hard to stay focused and learn what you are reading. But when you are doing the hands on material it is easier to participant and concentrate because it's hands on and it is in front of you. So being aware, and having the material in front of you is going to be a different experience. I would take hands on training than book training any day."
Q: What best thing about her job? What brings you the most joy at your job?
"It would be the consumers and being able to see them happy is what brings me the most joy. I like to help them destress and help take their worries out. Try to give them some encouraging words, make them laugh, smile, it all brings me joy."
Was there a time or place, or even a person that made her want to go into this field of PCA.
"I recall my home country, and when I was 17 years old in Puerto Rico, and I did this kind of caretaking over there at a young age. There would be people with disabilities or people who needed help and I would assist them. We would clean for them and cook for them. It was kind of like the missionary work that people would come over to help people in need. I helped in my own backyard because I knew there groups of people who needed it and helping others was a calling to me, this type of work. It called me and I responded, because I enjoy this type of work. It honestly brings me joy. It is a job that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life, it was a special calling for sure. It was in my soul to give and to be caregiver and I have always answered that call. I came over to America when I was around 18 and worked her trying to do the job I love, I started to work for Cri when I was in my late 30’s. I have been enjoying my job ever since, even after 23 years on the job."
Q: What are your hopes or dreams for your consumers?
"I want them to grow and succeed, I want them to continue to show progression and live a happy life."
Q: How do you handle stress?
I am a very spiritual individual and I believe everything will work out in its own way. I put my trust in God. I turn to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, when I am stressed or frustrated I like to say a prayer. I like to sit down and try and relax and try to have good thoughts and think pure things honorable things. I pray a lot and am very spiritual. Tell myself that nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass. I try to be more patient and I hope for the best in life."
Q: What would your consumers say about you?
"They would say I am very patient, I work well, I am very punctual, and respectful. I treat them like them like I wanted to be treated. I am very considerate, if I did something wrong, I apologize. I would do my best to turn their day around. I care for them like I would care for anyone one else. I treat them with decency and kindness.
Q: What can the city of Erie could do to improve their inclusivity?
“We should have a representative at city hall, if we presented our company at the city hall, the council will know we want to be included in activities involving the public. I think the city of Erie should spend more time with people in different groups, like ourselves. We the company could be more to be more sociable and let other groups know that the disabled community wants to be involved in concerts or activities. The disabled community want to be invited or even in the process of making plans. Helping plan out big gathering, social interactions and we should be involved in their process. We should have someone from CRI represented in the city hall and let them know that CRI wants to be involved in city activities. A better representation of the company and their people and for their disabled concerts. Then in the future we can find an event or an activity that can benefit both the Erie and CRI groups."
Q: Does CRI show enough recognition and appreciation to their employees?
"I think the company is doing a great job showing appreciation and recognition. They do show appreciation in small ways, they reward their employees for perfect attendance and give shouts outs on social media. Even when it is a small gesture like getting candy for Valentine’s Day. I know it means the world to me because they thought about me as a worker. When they put time and effort into an appreciation it means the world to me. Makes me grateful to be working for a company that cares back."
Community Resources for Independence would like to thank Virginia Velez for the dedication, time, effort, and kindness she shows for her consumers. We thank you for the sacrifices you made to keep the consumers and yourself safe and healthy. The time you put into the consumer's life has meant the world to them and to us as a company.
**Interview completed by Mariya Redden, CRI Media Coordinator**