Janice Morton, Program Counselor for Marrakech, used to be a Manager at one of the agency’s group homes, but found that she missed what she loved the most; the day to day support, encouragement and mentoring she was able to give the individuals she supported in order for them to become their own advocates. She also missed the smiles on their faces when they felt that empowerment. So, for the last seven years, she has been working as a DSP (Direct Support Professional) for two gentlemen in their apartment in New Haven. One of her goals with them is to help them “direct their own lives”, in her words, and one of the ways she nurtures that is to bring them to Marrakech’s monthly Self Advocacy Group and encourages them to speak for themselves about things that are important to them.
About four years ago, one of the gentlemen told Janice that he was tired from working at his job at the local grocery store and wanted to travel. He said he wanted to go somewhere fun, where there are lots of lights and action. Instead of taking on the attitude that this may be an impossible dream, Janice encouraged him, letting him know that he had every right to want, and to achieve that dream. She told him that it would take a lot of hard work, but that he could do it and she would support him. Janice told him he would have to speak to the right people for approval, and helped him to do that. When he received approval, he told Janice, “I’m going to go, and you’re going to go with me”!
Janice figured that the best way to empower people is to give them the chance to be as independent as possible, encouraging them look at all of the options and then helping them narrow things down from there. With that in mind, she suggested he go to the travel agency and get brochures of all the places he would like to go. After doing that, she assisted him in narrowing the choices down to ten, and then three; based on the activities available, cost and how much money he thought he could save in that time period. After narrowing it down to three, he chose a final destination.
During the year, when he didn't feel like going to work and wanted to take a day off, she was there to remind him about his goal and to encourage him to take charge and be responsible. With her support, he was able to reach his goal and realize his dream of a vacation in New Orleans! The smile on his face told Janice she had done the right thing. It has now become something of a tradition for him, and over the years he has saved enough money, planned and been on vacation to Las Vegas, as well as Myrtle Beach, NC!
When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Janice answered, “It’s all about the guys and what makes them happy. I do what I do because it’s who I am. When they are happy, I am happy”.
Janice is known throughout Marrakech as someone who always puts her guys first. She works two jobs, six days a week. On her day off however, she often spends it doing things to help support Marrakech consumers, such as attending their Special Olympics sporting events. She knows it make them happy to see her there to watch them. Heather LaTorra, Marrakech CEO says about Janice’s relationship with her consumers, “She’s not just like family to them, she IS their family”. We are proud to have Janice as a part of the Marrakech family and congratulate her on this nomination!