CBP Gerilyn Julian fills participant R.C.’s day with fun and educational activities.
Photos: Kaydee Johannsen
Text: Brandi Salas
Finding a “perfect match” between a participant with a disability or special needs and a community-based provider (CBP) is no easy task. Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) promises to deliver individualized services for participants based on their needs and goals while creating a special relationship with their therapists, program coordinators and CBPs.
In the case of 30-year-old R.C. and her CBP, 28-year-old Gerilyn Julian, autism was not an obstacle in developing an immediate friendship. “I can tell from her behavior how she is feeling about things, even without any words. I think that’s what makes our relationship really special,” said Julian. R.C. is not able to communicate verbally, so she uses facial expressions and sign language to express herself. The relationship between the two is so precious and rare; it took years for a case coordinator to find someone who understood R.C.’s needs and make a solid connection with her. Case coordinator Crystal Horimoto said, “R.C. would usually walk away or skip away from staff. But because Gerilyn has been so consistent with her skills training, R.C. would walk along with her and loves it!”
Walking around the park is one of R.C.’s favorite hobbies.
Julian is “participant-focused,” her attention is constantly on R.C., who walks quickly around the park, fascinated by her surroundings. Julian is trained to teach R.C. how to do things, read her expressions, guide her and ensure she enjoys herself during outings in the community. A CBP learns to be the voice and even the channel in which a non-verbal participant, like R.C., can use to communicate her own needs and emotions.
A CBP is not only a caregiver who teaches a participant how to do things, but a friend who empowers him/her to achieve his/her goals and be independent.
This month, Julian will graduate with her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health at Hawaii Pacific University. She believes she was meant for this type of profession and said, “For me, I was already born with people like R.C. in my life. My mom first started in an adult foster home and we had a home with elderly people so I was born into the lifestyle and I feel I was born to take care of these kinds of people.” Julian plans to continue her career with ESH. “ESH has the most effective skills training and is most passionate of the programs I’ve seen,” she said. When asked about what she enjoys most about her role as a CBP, Julian said, “The freedom of creativity. The possibility of teaching is endless.”
Julian represents what ESH looks for in a CBP. A CBP is an individual with experience, education, patience and compassionately serves as a caregiver as well as assists their participant in comfortably interacting within the community.