Name: Tyiesha Baptiste
Title: Recently promoted to Senior Manager of West Orange and Passaic Ave. Group Homes.
How long have you been with JSDD? 11 years
Was this the position you started in? Started as a Direct Support Professional (DSP)
What is your first memory of JSDD? I am not sure about my first memory, but the early memories are working with another staff member, Bitango, and observing how the staff treated the residents like family. Sheronda was the manager of the home to which I was assigned, and I immediately loved the way she ran the house. I also remember how funny and loving the residents were from the start. I knew if I had a family member that needed a group home, JSDD would be my top choice just based on what I saw in those early days.
What has most surprised you about working with JSDD? How much JSDD has grown. When I first started, there was a small office down the street from the more recent West Orange office. I am amazed with the expansion of programming at the WAE Center and the number of JSDD homes there are now. The longevity of the residential staff is a testament to the agency. The administrative staff is hands on, not biased. I know I can always go talk to them and they make sure everyone wants to come to come work.
What are 3 words to describe JSDD? Loving, goal-oriented and passionate
What do you find most challenging? Most challenging is assuring that all of the residents’ needs are met. You can never drop the ball. As Manager, I need to stay on top of medical concerns and resident’s needs while seeing to it that their home is a happy place. If you have a personal issue, don’t bring those into work.
What do you wish other people knew about JSDD? That whatever goal the staff sets, they always achieve. They don’t let obstacles get in their way and they always work together.
When your friends/family find out that you (volunteer, donate, etc.), what do they say or ask? They always say, “I don’t know how you do it!” There is so much to remember. Other people’s needs in addition to task you must do. My family knows I am a helper and I have always loved to help people. When I was younger, my grandma used to tell me I should open a nursing home because I was born a helper.
Tell me about someone who has influenced you while working with JSDD? There is not just one person.
Sheronda (who is no longer with JSDD) trained me and did an amazing job. Everything I learned early on was from Sheronda.
Lettica can always cheer me up in down days and always follows up after a talk.
Linda always believed in me from the start and her door is always open.
What part of your job are you most excited about? I love planning events like JSDD Got Talent! Sheronda and I came up with the idea for a talent show. All residents could pick a talent (like singing, dancing, or poetry). Everyone got a certificate and the top three got awards. Residents loved it. I would love to have a gala for the residents (dinner, dancing, residents get dressed up).
It is also exciting and hanging out with the residents every day.
What is on your wish list for the next 5 years with JSDD? If JSDD were to coordinate a more formalized recreational program and activities, I would love to work on the programming. I would also like to see the agency focus on homes that would specialize in elder care, so residents do not need to go to nursing homes when their current living arrangement is no longer appropriate. It would probably include more on site nursing care than JSDD currently provides. They could get services they need but still be a part of the JSDD family. I would like to work with the Foothold (electronic health records) team and gain an understanding of the back end of Foothold. I also hope that JSDD continues to attract staff that stay with the agency. Lastly, that Linda stays the Executive Director.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating/ volunteering/ working for JSDD? I would tell them anyway to get involved is the best decision you will ever make. It would not be a waste of time. You would feel a part of the family. JSDD welcomes everyone with open arms and there is no judgement.
Before working at JSDD what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I worked in security. It was not the job for me. My aunt introduced me to group homes. I did not know about this work.
What is your favorite thing for Lunch? Bay Leaf in South Orange
What is something about you that is not on your resume? I love karaoke and watching mysteries. Currently trying to learn crocheting. I also love to cook Caribbean food!