Heather Long lifts spirits of Glen Valley residents
Her seizures dont allow her to work full or part time anywhere in the valley, but her compassionate and friendly persona offer Heather Long a platform to raise the spirits of others, in the selfless act of volunteerism. When Heather came to Mountain Valley Developmental Services in 1993, it became very apparent to Mountain Valley employees that her social skills not only shined a beacon of light on those around her, but also gave Heather something about herself to be proud of.After working with Heather for a short time, life skills coordinator Marti Duprey began to notice Heathers natural ability to pick people up when they were feeling down and her desire to lend a hand whenever and wherever possible. Refusing to let Heathers friendly qualities go unnoticed, Duprey gave Heather a life skills evaluation, which turned up some not-so-surprising results.The evaluation touches on five areas: personal, community, employment, social and residential, Duprey said. Her strong point was her ability to visit and care for other people.So one afternoon, Duprey decided it was time to let Heather release her nurturing ways out into the community. Duprey invited Heather to join her at Glen Valley Care Center to volunteer her time with the elderly and often lonely residents there.What it does for Heather is give her something to think about other than being discouraged with herself, said Duprey. Its just wonderful that she can do this, and I think its really enriching her life.Every Tuesday and Thursday, Heather looks forward to the hour and a half she has to brighten someone elses day.I just really like to help them and talk to them, Heather said.Shell say things like, I want you to know Ive been thinking about you, and have a good day, Duprey said of Heather. Shes not afraid to approach a resident no matter what they look like or how disabled they might be, and I think thats because she has an understanding with her own disability, Duprey said.Heathers case-worker, Wendy Hisel, recognized the impact volunteering has had on Heathers self-esteem and said the opportunity to be involved in the community gives Heather purpose.Its good for Heather because she basically has that drive that she wants to be as independent as possible, Hisel said. This gives her an opportunity to give back.Like many of Mountain Valleys clients, Heather doesnt want to be viewed as any different than anyone else in this valley, according to Hisel.These guys want to give back and want to feel accepted in the community and do what everybody else does, and they get satisfaction from that, Hisel said.Working with people like Heather gives great satisfaction to employees such as Hisel as well.I just truly enjoy my work altogether, Hisel said. These guys give back so much, and its very rewarding work to me. They make it worth it, they really do.
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