Music From the Heart: A Community Habilitation Spotlight
Two years ago, AHRC Nassau Community Habilitation Professional April Alexander had never heard the bright and plucky music of the sitar.
“Listening to sitar music, you forget about anything that may be bothering you,” said April, who first learned about the Pakistani string instrument after beginning to support avid musician, Shehzad Muizzuddin.
“My favorite thing about working with Shehzad is that we come from two different cultures. Even in our differences, there are still commonalities. He teaches me. ”
Taking time to connect, April enjoys learning more about all the people she supports during her busy schedule as an AHRC Community Habilitation Professional. Each week, April works with six people, ensuring their daily needs are met, driving them to appointments and assisting them in achieving their personal goals.
“I like the one-on-one work, learning new things from each person I support and seeing them become more independent,” said April.
April’s love of learning and dedication to helping others has been a part of her life since she was a child. When she was 13, the story of Willowbrook made an impression on her that she never forgot. While disability has always been an area April has shown interest, she used her time in school to explore other topics.
April completed a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science at Concordia College in Bronxville, followed by a teaching degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminar at Gettysburg and a master’s degree in church history and education.
“I try to read my bible every day and have pride in growing my faith,” said April. “I believe the world would be a better place if people would respect similarities and differences, instead of immediately becominforg mean and ugly.”
“Even an old horse can learn,” April jokes, noting that Shehzad has brought April to restaurants with Pakistani flavors and graciously shared his experiences of being born and raised in a different country.
In addition to learning about other cultures, one of the things April appreciates most about her job is seeing people proudly share their ideas, interests and even complaints with others.
She recalls one of her proudest achievements as a community habilitation worker being a moment of exasperation. A man, she supported for seven years, was always nervous and afraid to ask for what he wanted or felt for fear of being judged. Watching the man come out of his shell and one day directly tell a family member that he was upset, was growth where it needed to happen.
“Those are the things, where I really smile because I know I’m being successful. We all have deficits and they really work hard on it,” said April. “All my people are like my sisters and brothers. . . I have so many memories that bring me a smile.”