We continue our series profiling members of ANCOR's Board of Representatives by introducing you to Monique Hicks, Executive Director of ResCare HomeCare in Louisiana. Here's what Monique had to say!
ANDRÉ FLOYD: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me! Could you tell me a little bit about your background and journey into the I/DD field?
MONIQUE HICKS: Of course! First, I am a veteran of the United States Army. I spent three and a half years in the service, first stationed in South Korea for a year and then in Fort Jackson, SC.
The rest of my experience is all in social work, when I got out of the service in 1994, I worked for my county in North Carolina in the SNAP division—the food stamps food and nutrition program. When I moved in 2009 from North Carolina to Louisiana—where I'm originally from—I got into the work of caring with elderly people and people with disabilities and here I am! I've been working in this field ever since!
AF: How did you come to know and get involved in ANCOR?
MH: I became familiar with ANCOR through working for ResCare HomeCare, a member of ANCOR. I follow a lot of the political side of things because, here in Louisiana, it’s always a struggle for us to continue the services that we offer to our clients and people with disabilities in our state. Every year there’s a struggle with making sure we’re funded to continue to provide the care that we offer. So I got interested in the advocacy and policy work ANCOR was doing and started reading the website and news articles, and signing up for emails. Through that I saw how it coincided with what we were going through locally and thought that if we could help advocate on a larger scale, then it would bring more focus to what we’re doing.
AF: That's great, especially because things can change quickly and we do our best to move forward and keep members informed. How did you become interested in joining the Board of Representatives?
MH: After signing up for all the emails I took note of one detailing a need for Board [of Representatives] members and I saw that there wasn’t a one for Louisiana. That was my cue to sign up for it and thankfully I was selected!
It was really right on time, too, because we had a [Direct Support Professional] recognized at ANCOR's 2017 Conference in San Antonio. Then, we had another [DSP] recognized when ANCOR hosted the conference down here in New Orleans this year! Unfortunately, when the conference came, I was sick, but it was such an honor for our organization to have another [award recipient] selected for 2018. We were really and truly excited that we got to recognize her and that ANCOR did as well!
AF: Awesome! That's always the highlight of our Annual Conference. It's a well-deserved honor and always tremendously inspiring. Speaking of ANCOR events, will you be attending the 2018 ANCOR Policy Summit and Hill Day?
MH: I definitely have my calendar marked for this year’s ANCOR Policy Summit. I haven’t been to one and this will be my first year attending!
AF: What are you msot looking forward to at the Policy Summit?
MH: The bigger picture and how we influence and advocate for all of the providers in the different states is what most interests me. The work that ANCOR does in bringing issues to light on Capitol Hill, it trickles down to really help the local providers from each state. Like with [Electronic Visit Verification], for example, it's clear that the work of ANCOR brought recognition to the issue so that [lawmakers are] now looking at how they can implement it in a better way. That influence helps the people on Capitol Hill understand the issues.
I'm looking forward to doing more of that: breaking it down for our lawmakers to show them how it is day-to-day in our field. I really enjoy that part and it's so necessary!
AF: I know ANCOR's members just left New Orleans a couple months ago, but with a packed Conference, there were undoubtedly some things members missed and need to come back to do. Give us one thing ANCOR members should do next time they're in Louisiana.
MH: Everyone needs to experience Mardi Gras, not on the New Orleans scale, but on the local scale. And they need to experience the more cultural part of Mardi Gras, meaning chicken runs and dancing for the ingredients for a gumbo. That’s the hidden thing about Mardi Gras: it’s more traditional and cultural in the local areas, and they celebrate Mardi Gras as it’s supposed to be celebrated. It’s not just getting beads! It’s more of a traditional thing, and anyone visiting should visit for Mardi Gras on a local level. You’ll have an even better time!
AF: Well I'm sold! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Monique.
MH: Thank you, it was a pleasure!
André Floyd is Communications Specialist for ANCOR and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Excerpts from this interview have been edited for clarity.