A chance meeting with Myriam Uribe, Supervisor of the 109th Ave group home, led to Marilyn Rycroft’s application and eventual long-term employment with the Association. Marilyn started as a part time residential worker with Myriam in 1988. She now sees clients in a group home situation in which she implements the Developmental Activities Program (DAP).
Marilyn’s first experience at the group home was “quite an eye opener” to her. On her first sleepover shift at 109th Ave, she was really scared. Each of the clients there had a unique sound and they would all be active at different times throughout the night. Marilyn says she barely slept and has never been so tired in all her life.
She says that night was not the only time that caused her concern. Every meal with the clients was an event because each of them had different table manners. Marilyn was uncomfortable with the staff’s approach to keeping order during the meal. Before she understood that staff’s instructions were part of a program, she would think, “Just let these people eat.”
Marilyn became involved in a pilot project in which the goal was to provide access to the Developmental Activities Program (DAP) in a group home. Clients who could not attend the program otherwise were given the chance to participate.
One of the changes Marilyn has noticed over the years is that the bigger the Association gets, the fewer the gatherings that take place “just for fun.” She says that there were many instances where staff would take clients home for weekends or holidays and that, in the 1990s, staff used to go out with the clients to Lake Saskatoon to spend the day.
Marilyn credits the Association with offering a great selection of workshops and training sessions. She has participated in many of the sessions and says they have been beneficial, especially since she came to the work with no background in the field. Still, she maintains that the best teacher is the hands-on experience with clients.
I took lots of workshops but the best was the hands on. Because that’s the way you learn best. You can go to school for five years, but if they throw you into the midst of the whole thing, you’re going to have to either learn about it or get out because it would be too overwhelming.
Marilyn never imagined that one day she would be working with handicapped. She has learned to become very open minded about differences in people and it has changed her view of people in general. “That is really the good part.”