Few people seem better suited to be a Direct Support Professional than Alricka Francis. “I’ve always had the tendency to take care of people,” she said at AHRC New York City’s Bellerose residence, where she supports six residents through their daily routines and affords them opportunities to become important members of their local Queens community. “I liked the nursing field a lot,” says Aliricka. “I wanted to give a helping hand and assist.”
The mother of 17-year-old triplets worked as a home health aide before being employed by AHRC NYC nearly ten years ago. “AHRC used to send a lady to my home to come help with my kids so I could have some time for myself,” Alricka said. “I started working for AHRC because it’s something I always wanted to do.”
Alricka’s initiatives at Bellerose Residence include a recycling program, gardening and cooking with the residents to encourage a healthy diet and lifestyle, diabetes management, and accompanying residents during their trips to senior centers and other community engagement activities.
“We started gardening last year,” Alricka recalls. This year’s crop included thyme, basil, two kinds of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and long, skinny eggplants that Alricka refers to as garden eggs. “Regina Gemblecher and some of the other residents would go out and water and walk around in the garden. It gives them something to do in their home. After they grow, we reap and we eat.”
Diligent recycling of drink bottles also allows the residents to enjoy the fruits of their labor. “After we reach a certain amount we do the exchange and the money we get from that we take them out to dinner to a restaurant of their choice,” Alricka explains. “It’s important to go out in the community so that they can bond with people and they are not standing on the outside.”
All in the Family
Alricka has received praise from her co-workers and supervisors. “Since the onset of her career with AHRC, Alricka has proven herself to be a reliable and supportive employee who fully understands the needs of the people we serve and fully embraces her responsibilities to support them to the best of her abilities,” say Craig Becker, Associate Director of AHRC NYC’s Residential Services, and Bridget Carberry, Manager of Bellerose Residence. They especially commended Alricka’s ability to foster relationships with the family members of Bellerose’s residents.
“I get to know their family because you get to know their likes and dislikes,” Alricka says. “They weren’t born [in the residence]. You get an idea of how to do your work because you get to know them much better. You learn what kind of help would the family to see you do to get their family member better, and the family knows that they are well taken care of and loved.”