At a time when there is unprecedented turnover in staff in virtually every field, Northeast Arc is blessed to have Carmen Beato on its team.
Beato came to Northeast Arc in 1996 and has never left. She has worked in the same program – residential housing – at the same location – Intervale House in West Peabody for more than 20 years.
And she loves it.
“It’s really satisfying for me to feel that what I do for work gives happiness to individuals and families,” said Beato, the house manager at Intervale. “I see (the residents) as a part of me. That’s why I’ve stayed so long.”
In addition to considering the residents she works with as family, Beato was originally referred to Northeast Arc by her brother, who was working for the agency at the time, and her three adult sons were very much aware of their mother’s job as they were growing up.
There are typically four residents at Intervale House with staff on duty 24/7.
“We help them to be independent and part of the community,” said Beato, a native of the Dominican Republic who emigrated to the U.S. in 1986 and currently lives in Salem. “We want them to lead a safe and healthy lifestyle.”
While the global pandemic that struck suddenly in March of 2020 presented significant challenges for everyone, they were magnified for those dealing with any type of disability.
“It was a really difficult time, but we were able to manage,” Beato said, adding that all but one of the residents went home with family for an extended period. “We kept him active and in a better state of mind emotionally.”
Although the resident was unable to visit in-person with family or housemates, Beato and the staff ensured that he did not lose that human connection.
“We took him to see his peers and his family – from a distance and through a window,” she said. “It was confusing to him and hard to explain why he was living alone, but we were able to help him through it.”
The other residents began returning after several months, taking the first steps on the road back to “normalcy” – whatever that may be in the long-term.
“Carmen has consistently demonstrated an incredible dedication to the individuals at the home as well as the highest level of professionalism,” said Andrew Browning, Northeast Arc program director. “That, combined with her ability to work as a member of a cohesive team makes her an invaluable asset to the residents at Intervale.
“During the pandemic and faced with the passing of one of the individuals, Carmen has remained a pillar of the team at Intervale, supporting individuals through difficult times, while always seeking to learn more skills,” he added.
When she is not at Intervale House with her second family, Beato likes to spend time with her family, especially her mother, sister, sons and two grandchildren, whom she calls “my life.” She also enjoys sewing and reading.
Her thoughts, however, never stray too far from her guys at Intervale.
“They need somebody like me to keep them in line,” she joked, and you get the feeling that is very much a labor of love.