It Was Only Supposed to be Temporary

By CCRI

Published on December 27, 2020

By Rachel Gustofson

I have heard the phrase “this started out as a part time gig” more times than I can count while working here at CCRI. While my employment started out full time, it was only supposed to be temporary. I graduated from NDSU with a degree in Child Development and Family Science completing an internship at the local hospital to be a Child Life Specialist. There were no Child Life positions available in this area at the time, so I decided to follow my sister’s lead and apply at CCRI. This was going to be a transitional position as I was sending out résumés. However, I was not interested in leaving this area and had no idea how impactful this journey would be.

Working with children has always been a passion of mine, so I started in the In Home Support department which is now called Options. I had open availability and wanted full-time hours. My supervisor at the time was able to develop a set schedule allowing me to support as many kids as possible. I was able to work with families in Moorhead, Hawley, Downer, Ulen and Barnesville. I got paid to spend time with these children completing their programing through play. I often felt guilty for getting paid to hang out at the park, go swimming, go to movies, etc. I had no idea the skills I learned when pursuing Child Life would help me so much in a position outside of the hospital setting. I was able to use distraction and relaxation techniques daily and was able to build rapport with these wonderful kids. In a hospital setting, patients came and went, but as a Direct Support Professional, I got to be a part of their family!

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As I continued to work as a DSP, I was able to take on more responsibility collecting and tabulating monthly data and was even able to assist with developing programing. This eventually led to a Program Coordinator position processing and analyzing the data, building schedules for the people supported, and supervising DSPs. As CCRI grew and restructured, the Program Coordinator position was eventually eliminated and the Director of Supportive Living Services (SLS) asked me to come join her team as a coordinator supporting adults in the 24-hour program.

My passion with kids quickly carried over to adults as many of the techniques I used were applicable to people of all ages. My supervisor and mentor taught me skills I will use both professionally and personally for the rest of my life. The leadership at CCRI always focuses on supporting employees, which ensures the people we care for have the best quality of life.

Being a part of CCRI is not just a job, it is a family! We develop lifelong relationships going through this journey together. We have a special bond with our coworkers and the people we support. Yes, we as employees are here to help others grow, gain independence and live their best lives. However, we are often the ones impacted along the way.

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What started out as a transitional position has turned into a lifelong career. The last 16 years have gone by so fast but you know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”