In the newest installment of our “10 Questions With…” series, we spoke with Ilene Williams. Ilene has worked as the Residential Supervisor at Farley House, one of Eden’s group homes, for nine years.
What is a typical day like as the residential supervisor at Farley House?
It’s a lot of questions because I have the higher functioning ladies. They talk and they want to know what’s going on. When I come in, the first thing I’m greeted with is questions. But it’s a family, so it’s just like when you go home and your family would ask questions. It’s the same thing in this setting. They want to know when we’re going back to the center, what we’re doing for St. Patrick’s Day, when we’re going shopping, stuff like that.
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with the women who live at Farley House. What has it been like to watch them grow over the last 9 years?
It’s amazing because you really get to know them. I know each of their personalities. When someone is in pain they won’t tell you, but I know because I’ve been with them so long. Someone else would see that they’re having the behavior, but I know why the behavior is coming — it’s because something is wrong and she’s in pain.
What are some of your favorite activities to do with the participants?
Singing and dancing. They have karaoke night, and it is so interesting. It’s so funny. There’s never a dull moment.
Why did you choose your profession?
I had a son. He would have been 22 in December. He was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, and he lived for seven months. It was because of that that I decided to go into this field — even before I came to Eden, I was doing home care. So I just had a lot of love to give because I always wondered, if he was alive how would it be, what kind of mother would I have been to him.
It gives you fulfillment. You have to have love, you have to have compassion, and you have to care. If you don’t have these three, this isn’t for you.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I always pick Jamaica, even though I’m from Jamaica, because my family is there and I just love being home. I’d also like to go to Africa as well. I just want to experience African culture.
What do you enjoy doing most in your time off?
It’s boring, but I pray a lot.
What is your least favorite food?
Anything green. Spinach.
What’s something you’d like the Eden community to know about the participants you work with?
That they each have their own personalities. They’re unique in their own way, and they bring something different to the table. Of course, I think everyone feels this way, but I feel like I have the best group home.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself since you started working at Eden?
That I’ve grown a lot being here. Because my family is in Jamaica, my coworkers are like family. My supervisor, Tamica [Domino], she’s absolutely wonderful. We could call her about anything, talk to her night or day, she’s always available. And that speaks volumes to me. You see it in her leadership. You can’t slack because this is the house that she was from, so she sets such a high standard. You look up to that because it’s your legacy that brings you through the world. It’s a great footstep to walk in, from Dave Fusco to Tamica.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing Sharon and Tammy dance. It’s not just one thing. You can’t be sad here. This is my escape. No matter what the situation is, they just have me laughing. Sharon will come over and hug me. Tammy will say “Ilene, I love you with all my heart.” It’s just the little things they say to you that just make your day.