Whether assisting with day-to- day activities or serving as a confidant for clients, Bernice Alexander consistently goes above and beyond in her role with Job Path, a nonprofit that enables people with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilled lives.
Alexander has worked with Job Path for over a decade, providing support to her clients who have sought an alternative to the organization’s group home model. In her role as a direct support professional, Alexander interacts with clients on a daily basis, visiting their homes to provide practical assistance as well as emotional mentorship.
“Bernice is always willing to share her experiences and is very sensitive to the needs of the people she supports, who all have their own interests, strengths and challenges,” said Maureen Martinez, co-director of supported living for Job Path.
Alexander’s strength stems from her exceptional ability to create a personal connection with her clients.
One such special relationship is with Richard*, whom Alexander assists with financial planning and encourages to pursue his passion in Job Path’s Outside Voices Theater Group.
Her perceptivity has also helped her form unique connections with clients who have difficulty communicating.
For example, Alexander has become particularly adept at reading the body language of Nancy*, a nonverbal client. At times, Alexander translates Nancy’s needs for new Job Path staffers to ensure they provide the best possible care.
Alexander also works closely with Terry* and Erin*. Terry has difficulty with transitions and will often challenge new staffers, while Erin is visually impaired and requires a unique routine.
“[Alexander] helps [staffers] figure out when Terry needs just a little space,” said Martinez. “For Erin, she makes sure new staffers know how to lay out her clothes so that Erin can dress herself.”
Alexander takes the time to fully train new employees on how to best serve each client and assists in the transition process.
“I consistently rely on Bernice to mentor new staff,” said Martinez.
And yet Alexander says that she gains as much from working with her clients as they gain from her.
“I learn something new from the people I support every day,” Alexander said. “Everything I experience makes me feel like it’s the first day with them.”
Frontline Hero features a nonprofit staffer who works directly with an organization's constituency and goes above and beyond to serve people.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
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