“I love being able to interact with the clients on a daily basis. Some days are more challenging than others but I still would not trade it for anything in the world.”

If you’ve ever called or visited our Core Service Agency on North Capitol, chances are you were greeted by Terraia’s warm smile and welcoming personality. Despite the steady stream of clients checking in, relentless ringing of the phone, intermittent door buzzer, and questions and requests from staff, Terraia doesn’t miss a beat nor does she lose her friendly demeanor. “I love this girl…she’s just amazing,” one client is quick to point out.

Terraia readily admits that being an office coordinator for a mental health provider was not part of her professional goals. “When I was in high school, my dream job was to be a cosmetologist and own my own hair salon.” She worked in retail and at a salon but when the economy became unstable she knew she needed to find something with more financial security. She landed a job working with people with disabilities who had a broad spectrum of needs – many who were medically fragile, some who had mental and behavioral disorders. And that’s when it hit her. She had found her calling.

Still, it has to be hard to stay so upbeat each day – especially with a job that demands so much patience and tact. “I always keep how I would like to be treated in mind. I feel like something could easily happen to me and it’d be me who needs help, who needs medication management or a case manager. I believe that you have to remain humble in everything you do.”

“I didn’t grow up going to the best schools or wearing the latest clothes. I grew up mostly like the people we serve. My mom was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and we moved around a lot. Sometimes we didn’t even have a home. So I easily could be on the other side of the desk. I feel you have to remain humble; you have to walk in love. It’s what I try to do daily. Basically,” she says, “they [the clients] come here to get help and I’m here to help them in any way I can.”

“This work – helping others – this is my passion.”

Our hats off to Terraia — and all of our McClendon Center staff — who work daily to help change the lives of our clients.