Lynda Guzman joined the staff of Opengate as the Director of Clinical and Behavioral Services in 2019. Earning her Bachelor Degree in Sociology from Colgate University her love of sociology inspired her to become a social worker and she earned her Masters Degree from Columbia University. Her career as a social worker led her into every position available where she was exposed to all aspects of her profession.
Lynda’s choice to accept a position at Opengate was threefold; she wished to expand her knowledge of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the superb reputation of the agency, and the agency’s kindness and love shown towards the individuals served.
“I’m happy that Opengate has their heart in the right place in all their decision making.”
Along with her staff, Lynda devises strategies to develop an atmosphere for each person to flourish and grow. In addition, she screens candidates for admission to Opengate’s homes and travels to meet individuals and their families before submitting her recommendations. Once a candidate has been accepted, she assists the family through the process and prepares them for the space and distance away from their loved one. To balance her recommendations, she includes individuals who currently live in the home ensuring a good fit with the objective of fostering an open, loving environment for everyone.
Lynda leads an annual general training to review best practices throughout the agency as well as regular training for staff to assess personal behavior plans, specifically how to comfort, calm, and de-escalate situational reactions for each individual.
COVID-19 changed everything!
From the first indications of COVID-19 in the area, Opengate staff responded to ensure the best care for individuals with the least amount of disruption. Additionally, only the most essential workers were allowed to be in the homes, leaving Lynda and her staff on the outside unless there was a crisis or individual support needed.
Furthermore, outside programs and travel was suspended and no family visits were possible for candidates and placement. Lynda presented virtual home tours through video conferencing instead of personal meetings, helping families remotely to prepare for placement, sometimes the individual’s first time away from home and family.
Lynda stepped into the position of Direct Support Professional to cover shifts during staff shortages due to COVID-19. She fondly relates that she grasped the importance and value of the DSPs position and their close connections with individuals. She claims it was a highlight of her tenure to continuously interact with individuals allowing her to experience another dimension of their needs.
To balance her busy schedule, Lynda practices yoga as a self-care exercise that centers her and brings her peace. To fully find an escape she enjoys reading and traveling.