Big congratulations are in order for Kristin Letourneau, Recreation Support Services (RSS) staff member, as she celebrates her 31st year at the Youth Bureau, with 28 of those years being a rostered employee. Kristin started at the YB as an intern with RSS while she was a junior at Ithaca College studying therapeutic recreation. Her journey of supporting and serving others started before that, however, when she worked as a nurse's aide in senior living facilities and home care during her high school and college summers.
There are many reasons why Kristin enjoys working with RSS Program Participants. Being a witness to the connections that they make with one another, the life skills that they learn, and just having fun together are all very rewarding to her. Kristin says, “being a civil servant of the City of Ithaca and a local community member, my job serving people in our community and also living side-by-side with them feels very meaningful to me.”
When asked about a favorite memory, it was hard for her to pick just one, however, the one that jumped out is special to her, not only because of what the RSS participant achieved that day at the Cayuga Nature Center’s Jacob's Ladder, but also because she learned something about herself, too. “Long story short…I was correct that I would physically struggle doing this challenge myself. What I didn't realize was how strong physically and mentally [the RSS participant] was and that she was going to take charge and assist me more than I assisted her to climb four of the five rungs of this giant ladder TOGETHER!!! I learned a really important lesson that day…do not make assumptions about other people and their ability to do anything. Also, remember we are stronger together than we are alone.”
The RSS Program is a unique one for a variety of reasons. Because it offers lifelong programming for adults and children with special needs, participants are able to grow up together, go to school together, and, as adults, reconnect with one another despite living in various parts of Ithaca and Tompkins County. “It’s a very emotionally moving moment when a ‘new adult participant’ to our program attends an adult program for the first time and sees a long-lost school friend”, states Kristin. “Our participants are amazing human beings. They are honest, empathetic, sincere, and fun individuals. They are also community members just like everyone else and deserve the same opportunities for connection, belonging, and living their best life.”
We completely agree, Kristin. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the Ithaca community and to the participants of the Recreation Support Services program!