From our Children’s Residential Director: Holidays are reminders

We’re sharing this internal letter to direct support staff about their crucial role – especially during the holidays. Written by our Children’s Program Residential Director Gina Sheehan, it’s a meaningful reminder for every human service professional, but especially those who work with individuals who may not have traditional family supports:

Dear Latham Staff,

As I was composing an email message to a group of our Children’s Services residential staff with the intention of discussing boundaries related to a student on my caseload, I realized that we might all need a reminder about “home.” As December holidays approach, things get busy and hectic, and kids have more behaviors and challenges. Holidays are reminders. For some of our kids, there are no positive reminders. For some of our kids, they are reminded that they don’t have a home to go to. Latham is their home. And regardless of family involvement, direct support staff members from all components are their support system. I am not writing this to stress anyone out, but the pressure is on. Our kids look up to you, learn from you, and grow from you. You are IT for them. Those of us who have kids know how much of a sponge a young brain is. They pick up on your most subtle nuances. THEY LEARN. They want to be like you, dress like you, and act like you. THEY LEARN. By working here, you are given one of the most important and difficult jobs in the entire world: Helping a kid grow up to be an adult who is intrinsically motivated to make positive choices for themselves

and those around them. So remember, there is a student hanging on EVERY WORD you say. Every single interaction you have with a student is a lesson. You are their caregivers, you are the people they learn from. You are the role models, life changers, mentors, and coaches. It is my hope that we all had a person like this growing up. CONGRATULATIONS, you are it for at least one student here. It is powerful. With power comes a lot of responsibility (Spider-Man!) So…

  • Be kind to each other, they see it.

  • Be engaged, look them in the eye, ask a question about their day instead of looking at your cell phone, they notice it.

  • Be aware that they really listen to you (even when it seems like they don’t). What you tell them about, teach them about, expose them to in the community, what you talk about at meals, what you plan for them, how you decorate your suites/classrooms… will forever be in their memories.

I want to thank you all for choosing Latham and being here. I want to thank you for creating life lasting memories for our kids. I want to thank you for helping each student become the very best, most amazing person they can be.


Gina Sheehan


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