By Stephanie Osman, ProAct Senior Program Manager
Thirty-eight years! When asked when she began working on ProAct’s community work crews, participant Teresa Christ said she started in 1983. During her time at ProAct, Teresa has been known as the top “worker-bee” at the Eagan location, and if you ask her where she’s worked over the years, she exclaims, “Everywhere!” Teresa mainly demonstrated her amazing work skills performing janitorial duties at Eagan’s various work sites in the community.
When the pandemic started in 2020, Teresa, like many others, stayed home. She recently returned to ProAct to participate in enrichment activities. It’s a different world for Teresa as in previous years, her waiver services did not allow for enrichment. In 2021, a slight change in waiver services gave Teresa the choice to get back to work and engage in ProAct’s Enrichment Services.
When Teresa was asked if she’d like to get back to work and start planning to find a competitive job, she said it’s time to quit. She went on to explain, “I like it here (with in-person enrichment activities in Eagan) better than working out there. Working has the same motion over and over. I popped a shoulder out from working and my back isn’t sore anymore.”
She went on to express that the classes keep her occupied, and some of her favorite activities (although when first asked for her favorites, she quickly answered, “All of them!”) are Dancing, Brain Teasers and Laugh Out Loud, where she recently enjoyed learning about the Three Stooges.
Teresa’s ultimate, most favorite activity, however, is helping her peers complete their activities if they need it. She is part of the Health and Wellness Focus Group in the mornings and afternoons, and enjoys helping people do their reflection journals and putting their books together. She also started learning sign language so she can communicate with a friend in her focus group.
The enrichment staff has enjoyed Teresa’s company, as well. Angi Fleury and Robin Smith, Eagan direct service professionals, coordinate and implement the Health and Wellness activities, and are both impressed by how intuitive Teresa is in recognizing which peers need assistance and her desire to help others.
Teresa has been a great addition to enrichment, and we are lucky to have her. The change in waiver services was positive for all and provided more choice to participants like Teresa, who would have never thought that enrichment was possible. Teresa confirmed this as well, stating that she had never done classes before and now says, “I love it!”