Florence Hightower started her journey as a Values Into Action employee six years ago. The Upper Chichester resident worked at a grocery store, and while she had no prior experience working with people with disabilities, Florence was ready to make a change.
“I wanted to help people, heard about the job listing, filled out an application and the rest, as they say, was history,” she says.
Though she wasn’t familiar with the social work field, Florence says Values Into Action’s training program “is quite comprehensive and easy to understand.”
“During her time with Values Into Action, Florence has provided support for two individuals,” says Executive Director Marian Frattarola-Saulino. “Once on board, we introduced and welcomed Florence to the organization. She was interviewed and selected by the individuals using our services, then thoroughly learned about their particular routines, interests, and preferences.”
Last February, she was paired up with Belinda, a mildly mentally challenged woman from Lansdowne. Florence now spends two days a week with Belinda helping her with everyday chores and activities.
“I help Belinda with her finances, take her to doctors’ appointments, go to the bank,” says Florence. “Belinda doesn’t drive and has a difficult time taking public transportation, so she otherwise couldn’t get around. I help her do things that we sometimes take for granted.”
“I really like to go shopping and Florence takes me,” Belinda says. “She’s a really nice lady that cares about people and likes her job.”
Florence is thrilled to have taken Belinda under her wing.
“I’m older than her, so we have a sort of mother-daughter relationship. It’s great,” says Florence.
Acting as a motherly figure to Belinda has made Florence look at her life in a different light.
“This job and my relationships have helped me put everything into perspective. It’s changed my attitude towards people with disabilities and made me realize they have the same kind of desires and needs that we do,” she says. “Helping people is a huge plus.”
And Florence appreciates the help and guidance she receives daily from her colleagues at Values Into Action.
“Everybody likes to come to work here because it’s friendly and small, like a family. You really get to know people, especially supervisors, on a different level,” Florence says. “You can always ask for help and they will find an answer for you.”
Belinda couldn’t agree more, “They’re really good people.”