Jo-Anne Serydynski


Human science and services

As an administrator in a small nonprofit human service agency, supporting folks with physical and intellectual disabilities in community residences, I find myself in awe of the very professional, extremely competent, and exceptionally brave staff I work with. These heroes report every day, for minimal pay, meeting every need of the people they support. On an average day, these are difficult goals, but in a pandemic, when safety is a matter of survival, it can be overwhelmingly challenging.


Consistency of staff is incredibly important to our folks, and some folks are unable to understand concepts of the illness, quarantine, and isolation. It is a challenge to communicate these rules and to support folks who are losing preferred staff, day and community activities, and time with family and friends. The frontline staff and managers at Gateways to Change show up every day, bravely caring for the people they have taken into their hearts. We are blessed to have such a brave and dedicated team.

As an agency, we have struggled with program closures, replacing in-person meetings and interactions with technology, and having to do our work in a completely new way. We are blessed to have an adaptive workforce with a “can-do” spirit. Our staff have been working tirelessly to monitor the residents—and themselves—for symptoms. They also do thorough high-touch-surface cleaning throughout the day, while providing support and giving folks engaging and interesting things to do during these weeks of stay-at-home orders. At the same time, these warriors on the front lines have families at home they are worried about, but leave behind to care for the most needy.