Maricel Border’s commitment to helping others has been a constant in her life. A native of the Phillipines, she was the third of seven children in her family, and as the eldest girl, was given additional responsibilities, including pumping water, cooking meals over firewood, washing clothes by hand and caring for her many siblings. Those duties increased even further after her mother left the family home when Maricel was only eight and her father turned to her to help manage the household.
Fortunately for Maricel, she was sponsored by an American family through an organization called Compassion International from the ages of five through 18. The group saw to it that she had adequate school supplies as well as the medical, spiritual and educational supports that she needed.
As a teenager, Maricel’s natural inclination to “give back” had her volunteering in a mission camp and at the age of 16, she helped to build a Bible school. She also brought food to the homeless living out their days on a dumpsite, and tutored young children with their school assignments.
Following graduation from college with a B.A. in Christian Education, Maricel began working at Compassion International as a Youth Caseworker with 100 charges. “My job was to help the young people transform their lives and I was there to advocate for them,” she explained.
That desire “to transform and help people in need” found its way to Penn-Mar Human Services where Maricel now works as a Community Activity Instructor II in the Day Program.
Marriage brought Maricel to the States in 2009 where her first job with Penn-Mar was packing tools at the Glen Rock facility.
Given her background of service, she then advanced to the position of job coach, where her heart was telling her she belonged. From there she picked up additional responsibilities and now “floats” from group-to-group in the Adult Day program, making sure supervision needs are met, staff is well trained, and that everyone has everything they need to experience a meaningful day.
Not surprisingly, Maricel was accepted into Penn-Mar’s inaugural Career Ladders program, a career development and credentialing initiative that included a minimum of 100 hours of training and practicums to improve her skills and earning potential. She received her Certification in January.
“I was very interested in participating in the program,” said Maricel. “It gave me the opportunity to develop more of what’s inside of me and learn how to better support individuals with disabilities.”
“One of my favorite expressions,” continued Maricel, “is ‘Understanding is deeper than knowledge.’ People may feel like they know you but few will understand you. Many of the people I work with each day are non-verbal. It’s very important for me to understand their needs. Helping them to transform their lives is what’s most rewarding to me.”
When not working at Penn-Mar, Maricel is also taking care of her husband who is currently experiencing health issues. “I find working at Penn-Mar to be a stress reliever. Being with people with disabilities makes me peaceful and light with everything going on at home,” she says.
“Every day I walk into work and see them smiling, greeting me hello. So even if I’m having a bad day, their smiles encourage me to give them a wonderful day. I love being a part of their lives.”