The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our September TCF Hero Spotlight honoree is Johnathan Jamieson, a transitional specialist with the Mental Health Association of Greater Springfield.
He began in the human services sector 16 years ago as a high school student. His commitment and compassion to helping those with physical and mental impairments be supported and seen as valued community members are exemplary. Thank you, Johnathan, for all you do for MHA’s members.
Tell us about your background. How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?
I am part of a large family who grew up on my uncle’s farm in South Carolina. From the time I was 4, I helped with chores, starting at 5 a.m. with collecting eggs from chickens who absolutely hated you taking them! My grandmother would put all the eggs and milk into an old churner and when her hands got tired, she would call my brothers and me for help. It was a disciplined life and one in which we learned to care for each other. My grandfather especially didn’t want to hear, “I can’t do it.” When I was around 15, my mother moved us to the Springfield area to join other relatives. I loved city life immediately. I did a work-study program while at Springfield Central High School in which I assisted disabled individuals doing certain jobs. The realization that what I did helped them get paid and be able to purchase what they wanted made me happy. I got attached to the work and the people. I like seeing the growth in them when you apply and teach them skills you learned growing up. These are people who could be members of one’s family as a disability could happen to anyone.
What is your favorite professional memory?
Arriving at work for another agency I heard colleagues telling a client to calm down. I knew right away that it was one of my clients in crisis and that those words – calm down – made him extremely agitated and destructive. I quickly told my colleagues to stop and said to the individual, “You’re scaring me. I’m going to have to go home. You are scaring me.” He responded immediately and through a touch-activated device that talks, he could hear but not speak, said, “Oh, Johnathan, don’t be scared of me. You are my best friend.” The staff had tried for an hour to calm him. You really have to know your clients and read their backgrounds about what can trigger a crisis and what can help in a crisis. I knew from this that my client wants to protect someone if he thinks they are scared.
The pandemic has been ongoing for more than a year. How have you coped with its challenges?
Our family does not do emotional things, like talk about feelings, but during the early lockdown we conversed everyday. I learned a lot more about my sisters and brothers and their kids. This gelled our family more and made us more aware of the importance of spending time together. Now my brothers or some other family member call me every day.
This question is from our August 2021 Workforce Hero, Marvin Nwachineke. What would you do for a career if you weren’t in the human services sector?
I would be a teacher for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. You can mold them into a good future. Kids are impressionable at this age.
Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?
How has human services, especially working with people with disabilities, affected your personal life?
Thank you so much to Johnathan and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.