For Ivonne Sanchez, there were many steps that brought her to Northeast Arc, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “Every step you take takes you closer to where you’re meant to be.”

Sanchez is the bilingual lead case manager within the Adult Family Care (AFC) program. The program provides support—in the form of compensation and training—that enables caregivers to provide valuable support to loved ones and friends in their home.

Sanchez, who was born in Nicaragua, came to the U.S. with her family in her 20s, holding degrees in business and accounting from her country. She knew very little English and took classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) through Beverly Bootstraps, as well as North Shore Community College. She later took pharmaceutical classes at North Shore Community College’s then-satellite location at the Cummings Center, and also earned her certified nurse aide (CNA) license. She started working at Beverly Hospital and then for a day center supporting elders and other adults with medical or rehabilitative needs. When her daughter, now 12, started school, she needed to find work that would be closer to their home in Beverly.

Sanchez hand-delivered her resume to Northeast Arc, and the rest is history. She was originally hired as a skills trainer in the Personal Care Management (PCM) program. After a year, she took on the position as a bilingual case manager in the AFC program.

“You’re in the clients’ homes every month and, immediately, I loved it,” said Sanchez. “That bond of visiting people, it’s really nice. You go into their homes, and they treat you like family. Knowing that you’re trying to get something done and be an advocate for them, that’s the best feeling.”

She also started doing presentations in the community—and through Zoom during the pandemic.

The supervisor position became available last year, so she has been the lead case manager for a year, supervising three other case managers. Three out of the four of them are bilingual—with Sanchez and another case manager speaking both Spanish and English, and one case manager speaking Portuguese and English.

“Our families rely on us to get their message across and for us to be that bridge for communication,” she said.

The AFC program is supported by MassHealth, and caregivers can receive a tax-free stipend ranging from $10,220 to $18,790 annually. Currently, it is serving nearly 140 families. “When I first started, we had 70 families, so it’s grown quite a bit,” said Sanchez.