Arc assists disabled, seniors with ‘guardian angels’

Diana Ford calls Arlinda Brown her guardian angel. “You’re priceless,” Ford told Brown, her eyes tearing up.

A breast cancer survivor who lives in Luling, Ford is one person who has been greatly helped by the United Way and the Arc of St. Charles, which provides assistance to individuals with disability and the elderly in the community, including in-home care.

Ford’s recovery since her breast cancer diagnosis was trying. She underwent major radiation treatment, then underwent a total mastectomy.

“It’s scary to think about,” Ford said. “I was in a dark place. A very dark place.”

Brown, a direct support worker, has been a major lift for her. She cares for Ford and Ford’s home, treating the latter, she says, as she would her own.

“I know what needs to be done, how to do it and what to do,” Brown said. “To be able to help is a good feeling.”

The services provided by in-home service workers vary and are based on the needs of the individual. They include  assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, cleaning and performing household chores.

“Sometimes, it may just be cleaning up or helping with bills” Brown said. “Sometimes, they need a little more help, like picking up medication or transportation to doctor’s appointments.”

Brown has worked with the Arc of St. Charles for the past five years, the past three in this capacity.

“My supervisor came to me and let me know of the need they had for someone in this position,” Brown said. “I like being able to help people who really need it.”

To hear Ford’s words describe her so glowingly “felt amazing,” she said.

“She’s a really wonderful person,” Brown said of Ford. “She’s easy to work with and has a great personality. No matter what is going on that day, Diana is a joy to be around.”

Brown, a LaPlace resident, said she has six regular clients, most in Luling and Boutte.

She said her eyes were opened in some ways once she began working with the Arc.

“I really didn’t grasp how many people were out there who truly needed help,” she said. “You hear about it, but you think, ‘oh, no,’ … it’s true, though.”

And once she’s there to supply that help, Brown takes her work seriously.

“I don’t do anything halfway,” Brown said. “I know if it were me, I’d like it done a certain way, so that’s exactly how I treat it. I go in and I do what needs to be done until the job is done.”

The Arc of St. Charles was established in 1971. United Way has funded respite services with Arc for persons with disabilities and elderly citizens since 1994.


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