By Mark Stevens

Chances are that if someone has been hired as a direct care worker at The Resource Center within the last eight months, he or she has encountered Nancy Barr.

Nancy is a self-advocate who has been receiving supports from TRC for several decades. Last spring, she was hired to serve on the panel that interviews potential new employees.

“I just love meeting new people all the time. It is nice work,” said Nancy.

Every Tuesday from 9:oo until noon, The Resource Center conducts job interviews in its Conference Center on Dunham Avenue. Nancy is there each week, meeting people who are applying to be direct care workers in TRC’s homes or day programs. Some interviewees have scheduled appointments, while others just walk in. Members of the interview team pair up, so there are two people per applicant. One person does the interviewing, while the other takes notes.

“We feel that enables the team to make better hiring decisions,” said Lisa Melquist, Recruitment Coordinator, “and they can bounce their thoughts off one another.”

“The team interviews seem to work well, so that we have two perspectives on the individual that we are interviewing,” said Kathy Constantino, Site Supervisor Trainer who is a member of the interview panel. “It makes the process move along smoother.”

For Nancy, part of that process involves coming up with a set of questions that she reviews with her interviewing partner. She also assists with follow-up paperwork and tries to greet every applicant as he or she walks through the door.

“She’s very outgoing. She’s not bashful or shy,” said Lisa. “And she was very interested in doing it, so we’ve just enjoyed having her as well.”

Having Nancy on board is part of TRC’s strategy of including people with disabilities in the hiring process.

“It’s really easy for a hiring manager to say, `I really like that person,’ but this is a person who’s going to be serving the individuals we serve,” said Lisa. “We want the opinion and the ideas of someone who lives within the homes as to whether or not that person would be a good candidate.”

“You just never know who’s going to come in,” said Nancy. “So I just say, `Nancy, give it your best shot.’”

Nancy said she also enjoys getting to know the other interviewers as well engaging the applicants – applicants, Lisa said, who could ultimately be supporting Nancy in the future.

“What’s better than to have the person that you’re going to be serving interview you? They’re going to be assisting them with everyday life,” said Lisa.

“I feel Nancy is an asset to the process, because it gives her a sense of pride that she has helped hire someone for a position,” said Kathy.

TRC plans to soon hire another self-advocate to join the interview team.

Nancy Barr, right, and Christin Sweat, the Manager of one of TRC’s homes, interview a person applying to be a direct care worker.