Receiving the best medicine
Cate Carroll ‘91 is the State Director of Intellectual/Developmental Disability Services for Delta Community Supports for New Jersey services. She is responsible for ensuring 36 group homes provide safe and healthy environments for individuals to live meaningful lives and become as independent as they are able.
She and her husband, Kevin, have been married for 29 years and met while students at CSU, and have four children: Benjamen, 26, Skye, 23, Jesse, 16, and Norah, 5. Carroll said, “Needless to say we are busy! I love to cook, camp, and spend time with my family. I am very active with the Boy Scouts. My son, Jesse, has been in Boy Scouts since he was 5 and earned his Eagle Scout rank when he was 14. He and I are preparing for a 12 day hiking/camping/backpacking trip this summer at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. As a family we are always looking for a new place to see. Now that we are living in the Northeast, our options of new places have greatly expanded.”
Called to My Vocation
When I was in 6th grade we started having study hall. During study hall we could choose to help in the office or the library. I really didn’t want to do any of these. At that time the children with special needs were kept separate from the rest of the school. They came to school after the rest of the children and never ate lunch with us. Their classroom was right across the hall from my homeroom, and there was always paper covering the windows. There were strange noises and laughing from their classroom all day. The teachers called these the “special” children which really confused me because I thought we were all special. I told my teacher that I wanted to help in that class. The first response I received was a firm “No” as this had never been done. I did not give up. I told my grandmother what I wanted to do. She became my secret weapon as she had a little notoriety as the first female Sheriff in Chesterfield County (S.C.), and one of only a handful in the state, so she could sometimes get people to listen to crazy ideas. In the end I was allowed to help in this class. I was able to play games, color, and sing with the students. I also learned how to assist some students with eating and some school work. This experience taught me that all children need friends and opportunities.
After graduating college, I applied to many human service organizations and got a job as a case manager coordinating service for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This led to several other jobs in this field in training, quality assurance, and then management. I love what I do. I feel that I am called to do this, and it gives me the opportunity to marry my faith with my vocation.
It’s a Lifestyle
I have had so many wonderful experiences and been a part of the lives of some great people, many that are still my friends. The individuals I work with don’t have needs only Monday-Friday from 8 to 5. The advice I give anyone thinking about this career is that this is not a job, it is a lifestyle.
The Best Medicine
Every day is different so I am never bored. When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, a hug from one of the individuals in one of our homes is the best medicine. Since the start of the pandemic, hugs have been a little hard to get so calls from individuals have to suffice.
The Road to Case Management
My journey to my present position was quite interesting. In high school I was a telemarketer for a portrait company. I also worked as a cashier and door greeter at WalMart. I was a waitress at Denny’s, and wasn’t that fun! During my senior year in college I did an internship with a juvenile restitution agency which is what led me to case management. After getting married and moving to Louisiana, I processed insurance claims and then got a job working in a group home for youth that had been removed from their homes and were wards of the state. This then led me to case management for people with intellectual disabilities. I have now been in this field for 30 years and cannot imagine doing anything that makes me happier.