Our compassionate staff takes their work seriously each and every day at Valley Educational Associates. The positive interactions with staff and participants build a community of trust and validation. Sometimes our work is not measured linearly but by incremental and sporadic improvements.
Below are some case studies of the valuable impact of Valley Educational Associates programs on the lives of adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities right here in Western, MA.
When Sandy first started at Valley Educational Associates, her aggression was unmanageable. She often expressed herself violently. Sandy would resort to hitting and scratching others. Helping a program participant improve their quality of life isn’t a task that can be done overnight. Staff compassionately reminded Sandy of the right way to handle emotions. Our staff is mindful of the tone, tenor and nonverbal communication when working with participants.
Job Coaches at our three program locations all agree that getting to know the individuals personally makes a big difference in working together, and being able to celebrate successes. Sandy needed this specialized of attention to be where she is today. Sandy is able to fully attend programs with her peers in a calm manner and even participates in community-based day services. Sandy recently celebrated her 20th anniversary with us. Sandy had her hair and makeup done by a staff member who is a makeup pro. She enjoyed the anniversary cake and the feeling of happiness and joy was palpable.
Jeff has been a participant at Valley Educational Associates since the early 90’s. The transition to our programs was difficult for Jeff. He struggled with maintaining a calm disposition and often yelled. At times, Jeff required the assistance of three to four staff utilizing their training in nonviolent restraints and redirection. His vocabulary was very coarse and offensive.
If you were to meet Jeff today, you would never know he formerly had severe behavioral issues. Staff worked diligently to guide Jeff in behaving in a respectful and polite manner. Jeff has made huge successes by working to improve his difficult behavior. As a result, Jeff is gainfully employed through our supported-employment program. Jeff splits his time between working at Staples and Hillside Plastics for the past seven years. He is a true pleasure to work with. Jeff has a warm and friendly attitude, matched with a great sense of humor. A Program Coordinator at Valley Educational Associates marks this as one of the most surprising turn-arounds in their entire career.
Kevin has been participating in Valley Educational Associates’s programs since the late 80’s. He actually struggled so badly with mental health issues that he had to take time away from the program due to a psychotic break. Kevin was a bit nervous to rejoin to the day programs but decided to return. Kevin has been has incredibly successful in his behavior and participation. He hasn’t had a single behavioral issues since his return.
Kevin works at BBC and Hillside Plastics through the supported-employment program. He has made lasting friendships and come out of his shell with his peers and the staff. He has an affinity for dancing and has a real knack for karaoke. The staff is so very proud of Kevin and impressed with his determination.
Staff recalls Adam’s first day in the Valley Educational Associates’s programs. Adam was 26 years old, and suffers from severe ADHD. Adam struggled with maintaining focus and attention. Due to these impediments, Adam was not able to be considered for a supported employment venture. Adam really wanted to have a job and was willing to buckle down. Staff patiently worked with Adam to develop focus and refine his behavior for two years.
Adam is now a staple employee at BBC, and has acquired another job at SDCC. Adam has put a great deal of effort into controlling his ADHD, and with the proper guidance, has truly succeeded. “There is nothing more rewarding than helping a person reach his highest potential and highest capability. It is one of the greatest feelings.”
Sal started Valley Educational Associates many years ago. When he began the programs, he was a high risk individual who required extra staff assistance. The staff worked with Sal to help him for several year to help him learn how to overcome strong emotions and frustrations. Sal learned to control his emotions and was able to obtain a job at BBC. His improvements were so apparent that Job Coaches were able to bring him to BBC and let Sal work with very little staff support.
Sal was determined and after his employment success, he wanted to achieve more! He would often ask to drive the car while making routine trips in the community with Job Coaches. One of our Job Coaches suggested that Sal study for his driving exam. Many of the staff helped Sal study, and he was able to pass the test and get his driver’s permit! Staff happily taught him about cars, and how to drive a car. Sal got his driver’s license, and is still driving around his car today. Sal was invited and joined the Human Rights Committee at Valley Educational Associates. Staff were so sad to see Sal leave Valley Educational Associates for another job. Sal still visits our program site to say hello to some of the staff and his former friends.