Working at Benedictine in a rural part of Caroline County takes a remarkable amount of patience. With a mission to provide services for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as autism, the staff at the Ridgely need to find job satisfaction with the smallest, incremental steps their residents take in mastering simple life skills. That can include the everyday tasks of personal hygiene or going to a public restaurant with the capacity to enjoy meals in noisy, confusing environments with appropriate behavior.
But when those moments happen, Benedictine’s residential program manager Shirley Blackston is the first to admit that tears sometimes follow for her and her team. And that is one of the primary reasons Shirley, a pastor with her husband at a local church when not working at Benedictine, stays in one of the most demanding jobs on the Eastern Shore. There is little doubt that her gift of patience is God-given.
Charged with the supervision of the residents from when they are dismissed from school at 3:30 pm to when they go back at 8:30 am the next day, Shirley coordinates the student recreational activities, their sleeping accommodations, and field trips into town for shopping excursions and a break from campus dining. But she also is a 24/7 advocate for her wards, finding any opportunity to explain to friends and strangers alike how special her students are and how they interact with them.
Last month, the Spy asked Shirley to stop by the Spy studio to tell us more about her work.
This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Benedictine and their programs please go here.