A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: ChaKara Gunn

A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: ChaKara Gunn

When ChaKara Gunn graduated from college and began her professional career, she never imagined she’d one day end up working in social services. While it was by chance she found herself in the field, it has made for some heartwarming and memorable endeavors. It was then that she quickly found this was the path she was meant to take. 

“I started working at a residential facility for kids back in 2015, and I fell in love with the field,” Gunn said. “Working at Paladin was my first time working with adults with disabilities; my background is mostly children and families.”

Gunn joined Paladin’s team in May of 2021 as its residential director. In this position, she wears many hats as she works with different departments to provide quality services to those with disabilities throughout La Porte County and surrounding areas.

“What I do each day depends on what's going on in my department,” Gunn said. “I check with my program managers to make sure that sites are taken care of. I check the referral list often for new referrals and follow up on referrals and information needed to open sites for people who need services. I talk to case managers following up on any crises that may have happened overnight. It just really depends on what's the flavor of the day.”

That spice of variety is a factor Gunn greatly enjoys about her work at Paladin.

“I love that it is different from day to day, and no two days are the same,” Gunn said. “It definitely can be stressful at times, but it's always something new and different every day.”

Even when times are hectic, seeing the positive impact she makes in people’s lives brings it all together and never fails to bring a smile to her face. Seeing their happiness easily helps Gunn get through the harder moments on tougher days.

“I think about the population that we serve. I understand and recognize that's why we do it: to help somebody else who has a greater need. I like to ground myself in that aspect,” Gunn said. “I love being able to make somebody's life a little better, help them achieve that quality of life they would like to see, and give back to people who sometimes can't advocate for themselves.”

Seeing people happier than ever and enjoying themselves no matter their circumstances is also her favorite part of what she does.  

“There was an event I went to with the individuals we serve, and I saw them enjoy each other’s company, dance, and have a fun time. It was at a church, and it was like a little social gathering,” Gunn said. “Being able to see all of our individuals get together and enjoy themselves and just have a good time was probably one of my favorite moments.”

Gunn graduated with her master’s of social work in May of this year and recently became a licensed social worker (LSW). In addition to working at Paladin, Gunn is a therapist on the side, and receiving her LSW allowed her to receive further education and the certification to one day open up a private practice.

Outside of work, Gunn loves spending time with her 6-year-old twin sons and enjoys traveling when time allows. Her kids are her favorite travel companions, and she loves taking them along for fun adventures both near and far.

​​”I love traveling and going to different places, trying different restaurants, little mom-and-pop spots, or hole-in-the-wall joints. My kids and I really enjoy doing that and just exploring and traveling a bit,” Gunn said.

One of her favorite places to go in particular is Virginia to visit her sister, niece, and nephew.

“It's always a good time going there,” Gunn said. “The first time that Carter, my oldest twin, saw a crab was the funniest thing ever. He was digging in the sand, and the sand here is vastly different from the sand in Virginia, and he ended up coming across a crab.”

Gunn’s position at Paladin was what brought her over county lines when she first joined the team. Prior to living in La Porte County, Gunn and her family lived in Portage. Gunn has enjoyed getting to know the area in recent years, and in the short amount of time she’s been here, she already feels very much at home. 

“I'm learning more about it. It was definitely new. I hadn't been past Michigan City Mall.” Gunn said. “Learning about the area and being in a new territory for work is definitely something that's enjoyable.”