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“We make a difference in the lives of the people we serve but they make a difference in our lives as well.”

Springfield, Louisiana – March 2021

I am Kumaria Garrett and I’ve worked for Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana for 16 years. I am the Home Manager for Creekwood Community Home in Hammond, La. I started as a part-time Direct Service Professional in 2005 and I just fell in love with the residents and the agency. I’ve been the home manager for the past five years.

I like helping the people I serve. Seeing a smile on their face, it just does something to me. They know me and I know them. I feel like I can be their comfort zone. Knowing that I can do things to help them feel better and knowing how to make them calm down, I just love helping people.

I have always had this in me, this wanting to help others—even as a child. I love the community home setting. I get out and dance with the residents and party with them. We’re like a big, happy family.

My most memorable event since I’ve been here was the evacuation during Hurricane Katrina. I was new at that time. That was my first year here. It was so family oriented and even the leadership was helpful. Even after I came back from evacuating, everyone was helping out and doing what needed to get done. And it was not only the job itself, but they cared about helping with any personal issues because Katrina affected everyone. It was just so touching how everyone was there for one another.

When I became home manager, I wanted to make sure that every resident knew when their birthday was so I printed out cards with their birthdays and ages. Every resident had to remember that card and now, they all look forward to each other’s special day.

Before, birthdays were just another day. Now they all look forward to it and ask if we’re going to have barbecue or a party or pizza. It’s just something they get excited about and it touches me to see them get excited. I thought it was important because a birthday is a special day for each individual.

We had a Valentine’s Day party and one of the residents, Sheryl, told me that she “felt so pretty today,” after getting dressed up to celebrate the party. Sheryl still talks about it today.

I do this because I love it. You have to have a heart and compassion for the things you do. All of my residents have my number. If they have to call me in the middle of the night and I have to get up and come in, I’m coming in. That’s just me.

We make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. but they make a difference in our lives as well. By knowing the people you serve, you can tell when something is wrong. No one else may notice but you will and they notice the same thing about you. You have to build a bond with them and they’ll do the same.

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