Kaitlin Wiens has the kind of work life that others might find unusual, but she loves it.
She works part time on her family’s poultry farm where she’s grown up. She loves being active and outdoors, so this is ideal for her – it doesn’t hurt that her fiancé, Nathan, also works there. The unusual hours and schedule suit her as well because that allows her to also work at Matthew’s House, where she serves as a residential support worker.
“I love shift work,” she says. “I love the flexibility of it and since I do work on the farm, it works with my lifestyle. I never want to work a Monday-to-Friday-nine-to-five job.”
But it’s more than the schedule that attracted Kaitlin to Matthew’s House. She’s always wanted to work with people who live with special needs and when she came to Matthew’s House, she knew that she’d found her ideal job.
“I love it here. I feel valued and able to use my gifts and abilities in a way that I’ve always wanted.” – Kaitlin Wiens, residential support worker
Kaitlin has an uncle who lives with developmental disabilities and who lives part time with her family. This experience means interacting with others who live with special needs is what she is used to. It’s also what inspired her desire to work in this field, so when a colleague at a former workplace told her about Matthew’s House, she applied right away. She’s been here for nearly three years now and she loves being able to share her life with Alexander, Austin, and Jadacey; the three young people who live at Matthew’s House.
“They bring me so much joy,” she says. “I love being able to find out what makes them happy and hearing their laughter.”
Quality care is a very high ideal for Kaitlin, so she is grateful to work with a staff team that shares this ideal. She’ll put in extra effort when it’s a special day for someone. Recently, when Jadacey was having photos taken with her family, Kaitlin raided her own closet, sharing her clothes with Jadacey as she might do with a little sister. Working in a home where she is able to do special things like this make her work meaningful.
There’s lots of opportunities for her to be active and outdoors in this job as well. Just like being out in community is a part of any young person’s experience, it is also a regular part of the routine at Matthew’s House.
It is also important to Kaitlin that all people be viewed and treated with love, dignity and respect. This is something about which Kaitlin is passionate and she is motivated by the deep relationship that she has formed with each of the young people with whom she works. What others might see as a barrier to meaningful friendship, Kaitlin sees as an opportunity to explore a person’s unique ability. That means taking the time to get to know each individual so well that she knows exactly what that person needs or how they are feeling.
“I can look across the room at Jadacey and know whether or not she is happy. She clearly lets me know if she doesn’t like what she is eating or if she is really enjoying the music she listens to,” Kaitlin says. “Being able to communicate so clearly without words is an amazing ability.”
Alexander, Austin, and Jadacey inspire Kaitlin daily with their determination, with the way they find joy in simple pleasures, and with their genuine expressions of affection for the people they love: their family, their friends, and the staff who serve at Matthew’s House. All these things, along with the practical way in which this work fits her lifestyle, means that Kaitlin intends to stay here for a long time.
“I don’t ever see a day where I will not be working here, whatever that may look like.”