Keely started at Alta California Regional Center (ACRC) as a Service Coordinator in April 2018. Prior to her employment at ACRC, Keely worked with migrant families in schools, providing counseling to help children pursue higher education. She made the transition to ACRC because she witnessed the obstacles her own family faced while raising her two nephews who are blind and Autistic. Keely was motivated to offer help not only to her family, but other families as well. She had the goal to help families overcome mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety, that can arise from having a child with a disability.
Keely primarily works with the Hispanic clients of ACRC, from ages 3-18 years. Often, she sees how Hispanic families are apprehensive about accepting help because of cultural pride and not wanting to “take” away services from another family they consider more in need. Language barriers can also affect a Hispanic family’s willingness to accept help, simply because they do not speak the English language. Keely recognized these concerns and wanted to help her families by educating them on the value of accepting help. She also wanted to encourage them to empower themselves and their child by advocating for their individual needs. With her expertise in speaking the Spanish language, Keely can explain to her concerned families why receiving services can empower them and help them cope with the challenges of having a child with a developmental disability.
Currently, Keely is pursuing a Masters in Marriage, Children, and Family Therapy (MFT), and she is on track for graduating next year. Pursuing an MFT degree allows her to expand her knowledge of how to teach families productive and positive coping strategies (i.e. meditating) that improve the health of the family unit when raising a child with a disability. Keely wants “to give families hope for the future,” and the first step for hope, is accepting help. She coaches her clients’ families on recognizing when they need rest and advocates for the importance of taking care of themselves, to care for others.
The day-to-day life of a Service Coordinator includes being a soft advocate for clients and their families, hearing and responding to their concerns, providing information about community resources, and offering knowledge on resources and services funded by ACRC. Keely’s favorite part about working for Alta California Regional Center is seeing how much a client has advanced when they meet annually to develop an Individual Program Plan (IPP). “I like to see how they’ve grown from last year’s IPP to the present IPP; what new things they learn, and how the parent(s) grows with the child.” She said working at ACRC gives her the opportunity to gain a unique perspective and open her eyes to the world of developmental disabilities. “Children with Autism are their own selves, carelessly – you cannot put them in a box and call them disabled,” meaning her clients are children first, each with their own personality, and their disability is second.
Keely’s passion and drive to help ACRC clients is what makes the organization so great. Her cultural and linguistic skills are advantageous to the well-being of our clients. Keely recognizes to help her clients, she works to improve herself, and through higher education, she can spread her knowledge for the good of the families she works with.