Paladin Employees Share their Experiences of Working as Advocates for Persons with Disabilities

Paladin Employees Share their Experiences of Working as Advocates for Persons with Disabilities
By: Jacqueline Ridge Last Updated: February 4, 2019

Approximately 30 percent of the waking hours of an average human life are spent at work.

Imagine waking up on Monday eager to get to work and make a difference in the community. Imagine enjoying the time you spend at work instead of dreading it. Imagine finding joy in your career. For some, this may seem like a pipedream, but for individuals working at Paladin, Inc., this is their reality. Paladin, a non-profit founded in 2017 when two local service agencies joined forces, advocates for people with disabilities to ensure a meaningful life. We asked a few Paladin staff to share their stories.

Nola Putnam
After relocating from Chicago to La Porte, Nola Putnam hoped Paladin would be a good fit for her. With a passion for helping others, she began her career at Paladin as a Direct Support Professional (DSP), finding the connection that she makes with the clients to be rewarding.

“This job gives me extreme purpose. This job gives me extreme joy,” Putnam said. “Not every day is a good day, but I can say that every time I go to work, there’s something that is going to put a smile on my face.”

Putnam, like other DSPs at Paladin, helps those with disabilities continue to lead rich, meaningful lives. While some individuals with disabilities may experience a strain on their social lives and on their connection with the community, those at Paladin have the help of people like Putnam to maintain their relationships with others and the community.

“We’re affecting adult lives. We’re there for all phases and we’re keeping these people healthy, in the community, and a part of society,” Putnam said. “We’re mostly concerned about taking our individuals through their activities of daily living and keeping them in the community. The thing about La Porte is it is just amazing how every time you take our individuals out in the community, we are greeted with so much patience and kindness.”

Bonita Little
After more than 20 years of working in the health field, Bonita Little relocated, finding herself in a new field and missing the connections she made working with others.

“I missed working with people one-one-one,” Little said.

After learning that her sister-in-law had worked at Paladin before, Little applied to work there, determined to chase her dreams. She then rediscovered the connection with clients that she had so greatly missed.

“The clients are more like family,” Little said. “We take them out to dinner, we take them out bowling, and we do activities together. We grow together like a family with them. When they have a problem, we try to work things out with them. They’re very capable of doing more than what people give them credit for.”

Paladin aims to empower those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, believing that all people have strengths, abilities, and inherent value. The staff of Paladin strives to treat clients with dignity and respect, strengthening their bond and creating a warm, inviting place to work.

“It’s more of a family atmosphere,” Little said of Paladin. “It is a wonderful place. Once you get to know them, they touch your heart in so many ways.”

For Little, the relationships she builds with the clients give her purpose.

“It’s a reward that money can’t buy,” Little said. “Whether you go in there and the clients smile and are happy, or you go in and something tragic has happened and you lift their spirits up, it’s a feeling you just can’t explain.”

Ashley Holbrook
Ashley Holbrook first found her love for helping those with disabilities through working at Camp Sharing Meadows. She followed her passion to Paladin, where she became a DSP. For Holbrook, Paladin offers a chance to do what she loves doing – making a difference in the disabled community.

“I am an advocate for people with disabilities,” Holbrook said. “A lot of people work to have a job that they can brag about, and I think that’s where I’m different. This is a job you get because you have a passion for helping people that need our help every single day with every step.”

Holbrook’s profession allows her the chance to grow alongside those she’s helping. “They often teach us a lesson we didn’t know we needed,” Holbrook said.

To learn more about Paladin and their employment opportunities, please visit