“I see frustration in the eyes of the people we serve and I want to fight for them. I kind of have that same frustration in my eyes.”
Rachel Hooker is a direct support professional for Mosaic. For 24 years she has devoted her time and energy to helping people with intellectual, mental or physical disabilities. She views her job as a calling. She says she is paying it forward and that is why she came back.
In 2010 Rachel first came to Mosaic. She developed a strong bond with many of the people Mosaic serves. When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she took a year off.
“I went to Arkansas for a year to rest. I was ready to die. I left my two children with their father in Michigan to go to private school but also because they were so used to being with me that I wanted them to be more used to their dad. They are 11 and 8. They needed to start to learn how to live without me. I visited once a month but shortly after I was there I got very sick. I thought this was it, I was hooked up to machines and transferred to Little Rock, but no one could do anything for me. I just prayed. I was glad the kids were not there to see it,” Rachel said.
The doctor that diagnosed Rachel told her she was disabled. That she would not do anything again and that she would no longer work. At first she believed this but eventually her fighting spirit refused to give up.
After taking a year in Arkansas, Rachel came back with a renewed sense of purpose. She was driven to help others and not dwell on how she feels. She decided she needed to come back to help the people that needed her, that needed an advocate.
“At first I was worried about my ability to do my job because of what the doctor told me but then I realized I was even more mentally capable and determined. I knew I couldn’t give up. Who would fight for them? I know how I would want to be treated so I treat them that way. They are not a diagnosis, a mistake or a behavior. They are a person and should be able to live their lives and follow their hopes and dreams even if others think it’s far-fetched,” Rachel said.
Since she has returned to Mosaic, Rachel has become a co-advisor for our local chapter of Self Advocates. She recently attended the Self Advocates of Indiana Conference in Indianapolis. She has worked in the past with Alzheimer’s patients, in nursing homes, as an activity director and managed an assisted living center. She wants to see people empowered to have control over their life and have a say in it.
“Every day God wakes me up to come here. Every day when my alarm goes off, I say thank you and I get up to come here to fight for the people we serve. I go to work a lot in pain but today I just wore my brace. This is my calling and I don’t focus on myself,” she said.