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"Who" Cares ? - Rosemary Canlas

“Loving what you do makes the time go quickly and brings out the best in the people you serve,” says Rosemary Canlas.

rosemaryMs. Canlas joined The Arc Rockland team six years ago. She is a Direct Support Professional in one of The Arc’s residences—home to six women. And home it is, according to Ms. Canlas. “We do the same kinds of things that I do in my own home: shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry ... and we go out to the mall or the movies, eat at restaurants, visit the library, do volunteer work and take trips. We don’t necessarily do everything together. Every woman has her own interests, and that’s what makes this job interesting.” Recently, three of the women performed in a show at the Elmwood Playhouse. “That was exciting for all of us.”

Maura Blake, Manager of The Arc residence, points to Ms. Canlas’s patience and her ability to “tune in” to each individual. “Rosemary has a calm and reassuring manner,” notes Ms. Blake. She cites the example of a resident who accidentally left her cell phone in a vehicle. “The woman was distraught. She used the phone for entertainment as well as making calls, and she really missed having it. Rosemary was able to calm her, reassure her that they would track down the phone and redirect her to other activities for the evening.

“She’s also creative, turning regular activities into learning opportunities,” adds Ms. Blake. “During the summer months Rosemary not only encouraged the women to help maintain our vegetable garden, she explained the nutritional benefits and helped them to harvest and cook what had been planted.”

Born in the Philippines, Ms. Canlas was a teacher in her hometown. “On first coming to the United States, I worked n a day care program for seniors at another agency. When Letchworth Village (a former residential institution for people with disabilities) was closed in 1996, many of the men and women who had been institutionalized there were transferred to that agency. That was my first experience working with people with physical and developmental disabilities. I found it to be very rewarding.”

She continues to find fulfillment in her chosen career. In addition to working at The Arc, she works as a full-time Day Program Manager at Venture Adult Day Services.

Whatever the challenge, Ms. Canlas maintains a positive attitude. “Of course sometimes there are behavior issues, individuals who get upset just as we all do, but if you deal with people gently, tenderly, they calm down. I respect their likes and dislikes, and I don’t try to force them to do something they don’t want to do. If it’s something that must be done, I reason with them and explain why this particular task is necessary.”

The rewards of being a Direct Support Professional, she explains, are well worth the effort. “The people want to hug you when you do something for them. They become very close to you. When you’re absent they miss you, and when you return, they ask where you were. That love is the best gift that they can give you. It means you’re doing things that make them happy.

“Love is hard to earn,” she adds. “You have to give love in order to get love back. And I love them all.”

Thank You to The Arc Rockland’s 2019 Corporate Sponsors: