DSS Program Director — Carbon/Monroe/Pike Counties
Some people tend to float through life while others are very goal-directed and purposeful about the choices they make. Heidi Zacharias is of this second type. At the age of 29, she confidently states "I have everything I need in life" and you can see that this is true. Heidi has a career she enjoys (and is good at), she married the man she has loved for 14 years and is her best friend, and she is the mother of two great children under the age of five — Hannah and Peyton — both are blonde, beautiful, and good-natured.
Heidi is one of those rare individuals in the developmental disabilities field who actually went to college to prepare for the work she now does daily. She attended East Stroudsburg University and received a B.S. in Rehabilitative Services, which she describes as special education for adults. All through college Heidi worked in group home settings, increasing her knowledge by applying the formal education she was receiving and putting it into practice.
As the youngest of a blended family with 8 children, Heidi always had to work hard for what she wanted in life, be it a college education or personal necessities. Although her serious academic work in high school earned her a scholarship at Temple University, Heidi made the decision to stay in the area she loves — and remain near her high school sweetheart. Her continuing education efforts were successful and she was the first member of her family to graduate from college.
Life at the Zacharias house sounds almost idyllic. The family has a 4 acre homestead on a private dirt road. Heidi loves to cook and does a lot of baking on the side. She maintains a large vegetable garden growing lettuce, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and other organic vegetables to feed the family. She enjoys canning each year and even made the 200 jars of jelly and apple butter they gave the guests at their wedding (where they also provided home-made wine for the tables).
Heidi joined the ReDCo Group family 6 years ago as a Program Specialist, responsible for 5 group homes, 3 Life Sharing provider families, and the Home Based Waiver program. She was recently named Program Director of Carbon/Monroe/Pike Counties.
One of Heidi's responsibilities is overseeing the Life Sharing program in CMP counties. Life Sharing is where a client with developmental disabilities is matched with a family that has decided to share their home and their family life. She explains that a large part of the success of the program depends on the attitude of the provider family. She says that "if you think of it as work, it doesn't work out."
Heidi feels that the program hinges on relationships — that of the provider family and the client but also the relationship of the ReDCo Life Sharing Support Team with the family. Heidi speaks with, and meets with, the provider regularly, to make sure that the 'new family' is a healthy one for all involved.
Sometimes family dynamics change. Heidi is currently working with a family going through a divorce. Both the husband and wife have a relationship with the client who lived with them for several years. Change happens in all families.
As the ReDCo Group's Life Sharing Program expands, we will rely on employees like Heidi Zacharias to lead the way and help us grow.