Paula is a long-standing Service Coordinator at Alta California Regional Center (ACRC). With over 23 years of experience, her knowledge of the service delivery system is monumental. She has made an immense impact on the lives of her clients and the community by educating them about developmental disabilities and the services available for those with a disability. Paula began her career at ACRC because she was interested in working with clients and navigating the challenges that might arise, based on their needs. She enjoys working collaboratively with her clients to find solutions to their unique predicaments. Her flexibility, expertise, and personable disposition has made her a valuable member of ACRC.
While in college, Paula attended a job fair and spoke with a representative of Sacramento Children’s Home, an organization committed to administering care to Sacramento’s most vulnerable children. She became employed with the organization and provided support to emotionally disturbed children. Paula was shocked to learn how much trauma the children she worked with had experienced in such a short expanse of life. She decided to major in social work because she was inspired by their experiences and was motivated to help others. After obtaining her Bachelor’s in Social Work, Paula wanted to work at ACRC because of the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people. She enjoys the little victories she witnesses when supporting clients at ACRC; from getting their first paycheck to moving away from home to live independently. Paula feels pride when she sees the effort her clients put in to thrive in their lives, and she appreciates her involvement in the process.
Over the years, Paula has witnessed many changes at ACRC. When she first started, she worked on a typewriter and dictated her notes. With the transition into the digital and technological age, she adapted effortlessly to the new way of working. Despite the advantages of technological improvements (i.e. computers), Paula mentions her role, in some ways, was easier 23 years ago. When she initially started, her case load was larger, but the standards were different; what is expected today wasn’t the standard then. As laws, regulations, and the service delivery system transformed, Paula found new changes and challenges arose to understand and adjust to, even with a smaller case load. Writing clients notes and the construction of an Individual Program Plan (IPP) has evolved to be much more in depth. She adapted to the ever-changing system, and has been successful at acclimating herself to the new standards.
With her extensive tenure at ACRC, Paula has had many memorable moments with her clients; one in particular comes to her mind. The first day Paula met a new client was in a hospital while she was giving birth. At the time of this initial meeting, police and other officials were waiting to take the child away from the client, its mother. Paula calmly explained to her client that she needs to comply – during this time in history, individuals with developmental disabilities were regarded as unfit to be parents. Together, Paula and the mother worked to gain custody of the child. This experience, like many others, has contributed to her favorite reason why she enjoys working at Alta California Regional Center – building trust and a relationship with our clients.
Paula is officially retiring later this year, and warmly welcomes younger generations to take over. She said, “I feel like I did a good job. At first, there was a lot of emotions surrounding my [upcoming] retirement, but now I am ready and can take pride in the work I have done.” Paula plans to enjoy her retirement with gardening, travel, spiritual growth, and serving as a volunteer in the community. Paula’s strong and outgoing personality will be missed by staff and clients alike.