Selfhelp Staffer Making a Difference:
A series of stories by Beth Gomberg-Hirsch, contributing writer.
Beth Gomberg Hirsch spends a lot of time visiting her mom, Helene, a resident of The Selfhelp Home. Behind-the-scenes, Beth sees the great work of the staff, some of whom may not be as visible to the public but make a tremendous difference in the lives of the residents. They are, Beth says, “the special sauce” that makes Selfhelp unique. Activity Director Carmen Boss is the first profile in her series.
Meet Carmen Boss: A Close-Up with Carmen Boss, Activity Director
If ever there was an energetic face of Selfhelp, it’s Carmen Boss. She exudes the positive “can- do” spirit that any institution would love to have. Carmen has been working at Selfhelp for 17 years. Recruited by a friend from Sheridan Shores, Carmen has led activities for the 6th, 7th and 8th floor for 17 years. She leads a dedicated, hardworking team, who all rely on each other to get the job done.
Carmen speaks in a loud and joyous voice with a slight hint of a Southern accent. She says someone once commented to her that she is “as country as a truck of peaches.” Carmen has lived in Chicago her whole life, has one son and two grandchildren. She views all the residents of Selfhelp as her children and treats them as if they were family.
Carmen has a heart for people, no matter how difficult their situation. She strives to get the best out of all residents and wants them to respond at whatever level is practical or comfortable. She considers herself a staunch advocate of the residents and wants to provide maximum stimulation, sometimes even overriding family members who may feel their loved ones relatives are not as capable as Carmen feels they might be. She wants everyone to know that she cares. Working at Selfhelp has been her calling. Helping others comes easy to her, and she feels that by the grace of God, this is her calling.
Carmen’s greatest achievements at Selfhelp have been the Bell Choir she once ran and plays that she had the residents perform. As many residents live in Selfhelp for long periods of time, it is important to provide appropriate and varied forms of stimulation for them. She tries to get residents out on field trips, even if it means organizing a cadre of volunteers to push those who are mobility-challenged. Carmen tries to meet residents on whatever level they are on, and is often surprised by the outcomes and capabilities of the residents in nursing care.
Carmen loves that Selfhelp values culture, and appreciates the enriching experiences it provides for residents. “This is not just a place to play Bingo,” she says.
Carmen Boss– a true asset to the Selfhelp Home.