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Ann Christina: A passion for the work that spans decades

Ann Christina has worn many hats at the Olean Center dating back to 1994 when she was a supervisor in the Center’s sheltered workshop. 

Since then she has served as a job coach, support coordinator, a lead in the residential apartment program, and a Direct Support Professional. 

Her dedication is fueled by her passion for the people she serves. And improvements in the industry keep her motivated to continue. Ann started in the field when state hospitals were the standard for “care,” and were found to be lacking in almost every aspect of true care.   

“It’s what I love to do and I feel I’m OK at it,” Ann says. “I started as a mental health worker at Norwich Hospital in Connecticut. It was barbaric back then, and the changes are huge and for the better. There was no crisis prevention intervention training back then. Society is more accepting now and more kind in general and absolutely more inclusive in the community.” 

Ann is currently providing support for an Olean Center participant in the independent living program and as a DSP with Thomas, who is 31.  

“Thomas likes to volunteer at the Blue Mitten thrift shop and going to lunch at the Westerly Senior Center. We shop at the Dollar Tree and he knows everyone on the staff there,” Ann said.   

Ann’s work with Thomas illustrates all that has kept her in this demanding yet rewarding field. 

“Thomas came to the Olean Center out of high school and he has come so far,” Ann said. “I’ve seen growth with him in so many ways and with so many others over the years. I’ll always be in this field.” 

Ann credited Thomas’ parents for much of his growth, calling them “phenomenal people.” 

In addition to passion, working with developmentally disabled people requires a high level of energy and Ann clearly has the energy for it. When she’s not advocating for Olean Center participants by her actions she attends classes at Rhode Island College in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in professional studies with a concentration in social services. 

“It’s a new program for older students, and in the age range of students at RIC -- I’m an older student,” Ann says with a laugh. 

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