Renee is a smart woman with an effortless sense of humor that makes her easy to talk to. She is a hard worker, and is tirelessly dedicated to her job as the Coordinator of the Day Services Program at Greater Opportunities. Renee started her work life in sales and marketing and was an executive assistant for eight years before transitioning to the non-profit world. Renee made her foray into the world of disability care six years ago as job coach for people with developmental disabilities, and she says she was good at it right away – it was easy for her.
Since then, Renee has dedicated her life to working with people with developmental disabilities. She started her work at Greater Opportunities two years ago as the assistant coordinator to help develop volunteer sites, create new jobs, and come up with different activities for the Day Program. She says she’s passionate about getting people with disabilities involved in new things, and Greater Opportunities gives her the opportunity to do that.
She likes working at the Day Program because she knows she can make a difference. She’s conscientious, and the attention she gives each person is an example of her desire to see everyone succeed. She says one of her priorities is to maintain a daily structure at the Day Program so that everyone has a chance to try every activity. It’s important to her that everyone feels included and has a chance to try new things. She works with clients to discover their interests and then groups them accordingly with staff members they get along with, “I try to group people so that everyone will have a good day.” She works hard to make sure the clients are able to have a new experience each day to help them grow.
One of her goals is to take clients to new places around the central coast. In the past, the Day Program participants have taken trips to the beach, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, different local national parks, and to local museums. “The Day Program is a huge part of these people’s lives. They don’t graduate from here and go off into the world. They experience the world largely through the Day Program.” She says she’d like to expand the kinds of field trips the Day Program offers in an effort to continue to broaden horizons.
Renee says the Day Program is a welcoming community, and the staff is warm and friendly. She comes to work everyday because she likes to know that she is truly helping people, and says her staff all feels the same way. It’s important for clients to feel that someone cares about them, “At Greater Opportunities we strive to treat everyone the same. All of are clients are mentally and/or physically disabled, but some are unaware that they have a disability. We’re not focused on their disabilities- we’re focused on what activities they like to do and what’s going to make them happy.”