Peter Jones, the longtime Manager at AHRC New York City’s Bloomberg Apartments for residents with significant medical challenges, said that Theresa Williams-Wiggins has been an asset to the home since the first day she started. “She quickly established herself as a leader and someone that could be relied upon with tasks and requests,” Peter explained. “When Theresa is on the shift you know that everything will be fine.”

Theresa began working at AHRC NYC more than 13 years ago and has been a full-time member of the staff for over a decade. She is perfectly suited for this type of work. “I’ve always liked this field,” she said. “I like to give one-to-one care to someone. I like the challenge of that. I want to help people achieve something where you can feel that they are happy.”

Theresa’s work ethic and commitment are unsurpassed. “Some days I come to work expecting to work eight hours and I will work 16, or even stay overnight. For me, being here, you could always get another job that can pay more, but when you enter this field you are here to support them and achieve a whole lot with them. I love it.”

Embracing Mentorship

Peter said that other staff members look to Theresa as a mentor, a role that she embraces. “It’s important to tell people that the ICF field is not for everyone. But there are ways to handle the stress. There will be times that become overwhelming—ask to step away for five minutes to get some fresh air and come back. The work environment in here is about a family–we are here to support each other and the residents’ home because this is where they live.”

She encourages new and experienced staff members alike to exhibit patience, understanding, and empathy. “You may not think you can bond with these residents, but you always will. Get to know them—don’t look at them and judge them because they are just like you. They have challenges, just like you.”

Theresa says that her patience comes from her faith and a lesson her father instilled in her when she was growing up in Trinidad. “If you choose to do something, no matter what that something is, then you always choose to do the best that you can at it,” Theresa said.

“Winning the Lottery”

Theresa Williams Wiggins holds a picture of Joan Horna, a beloved resident who passed away a few years ago.

Theresa Williams Wiggins holds a picture of Joan Horna, a beloved resident who passed away a few years ago.

Theresa takes pride in creating strong bonds with the Bloomberg residents. She happily recounted being able to recently celebrate Duane Washington’s 50th birthday with a Hawaiian theme, keeping social distancing and other measures in place due to the health considerations of the residents. Theresa loves helping Duane learn new skills and discover new interests.

One person might set a goal, but within that time he might yearn to learn something else,” she explained. Theresa described working with Duane on his iPad—teaching him how he could google what trains are running, when they arrive, and where they go. “For Duane to show you the train schedule and map all on his own? You feel like you are winning the lottery. You feel in your heart—’oh my god I’ve done good.’ He will learn from that simple thing to go learn other things.”

Theresa’s incredible work and indomitable spirit are not lost on her colleagues. “She has consistently demonstrated her reliability, flexibility, good judgment, and also her compassion on a daily basis,” Peter said. “She has been a stabilizing presence right from the beginning and is a source of knowledge for everyone willing to learn. She has been especially reliable during the current pandemic, and despite the loss of several of her own family, Theresa has always remained focused and given the maximum effort with her work at Bloomberg. It has been an inspiration to all of us that know her.”