Iris Sauceda worked in retail and was in and out of school for years before completing her degree and starting a career in occupational therapy. From day one on the job, Iris knew she’d found her calling.
“It takes caring, the right personality and extensive training to do this,” Sauceda says. “But you also have to have the desire to help others.”
Sauceda has been with Allied since 2005, working in nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and, most recently, in a school setting. Before joining Allied, she did early intervention home therapy through District 211 in the northwest Chicago suburbs. She also spent 3½ years running the psychosocial program in Spanish for St. Mary’s Hospital in Chicago, leading rehabilitation programs for adults with disabilities.
One of Sauceda’s favorite applications of her skills, however, takes her far from Chicago. A native of Honduras, she spends as much time as she can volunteering in her home country.
“Since I do a lot of work in my country, I take summers off,” she says. “Allied has really matched my scheduling needs. Their flexibility is one of the greatest things about Allied.”
Because Allied frees up Sauceda’s summers, she is able to volunteer in Honduran areas that lack adequate access to therapy and rehabilitation. During her most recent trip, Sauceda and other volunteers held a four-day therapy clinic, providing more than 40 children with assessments, treatment planning and parent follow-up instructions.
“In Honduras, kids with disabilities and diseases really don’t get therapy,” Sauceda says. “There are no physical therapists or occupational therapists.”
Before her Honduras trip this summer, Sauceda is keeping busy working with her students, who have mild to moderate physical and developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism.
“I love my work because I care about the children and the people I serve,” Sauceda says. “I look past their disabilities and see my students for who they are. That helps me gain trust and helps them have fun with therapy.”