Physical therapy assistant Ligia Martinez looks forward to going to work every morning at EL ARCA, a place where she says she “belongs.”
The main reason for her attachment to her job are the program participants themselves, each person unique in their own way, but all special to the staff that work at EL ARCA’s Community-Based Adult Services Center.
“Every person is different, and you get to know them,” Ligia explains. “You get to know them by gestures or pointing or crying, even when they can’t express themselves. You treat them like they are one of your family members. You get very attached to them.”
Ligia says she felt an immediate connection with one of her program participants, a quiet young woman who used a wheelchair and could only communicate with gestures. As they worked together daily over several months, the two women became close. Ligia even began to anticipate her young program participant’s changing moods and needs.
But after the young woman stopped attending the program for a couple of weeks, Ligia learned that she had unexpectedly passed away.
“It was a surprise because we never expected something like that,” Ligia says. “It was hard because you get to the point where you need to express your feelings, too, that this happened to someone you care about.”
An EL ARCA employee for the past 22 years, Ligia says she feels like she belongs at the center. “I like everything. I love my job. I like interacting with the consumers, I like that a lot. This is my second home.”
But she would like information about EL ARCA’s services and programs to reach a wider audience.
“I would love for people to come and see the program because in Latino society when we see people with disabilities, we’re not well-informed,” Ligia says. “So, it would be good for people who come to the site for the first time to also come to the program and get a tour for them to see that we’re here. I think a lot of people don’t know that.”
- Ligia Martinez
Physical therapy assistant, CBAS