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Get to Know: Wellness Coordinator Jannelle Robinson

Jannelle Robinson has been a “wearer of many hats” since beginning work at Nonotuck as a Care Manager in 2012. After leaving the organization in 2015 to work as RISE Coordinator and complete her Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires, she returned in 2019, first as the Marketing and Wellness Coordinator, now as simply the Wellness Coordinator.

Jannelle has also served as the co-chair of Nonotuck’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, work that recently earned her recognition from the Association for Developmental Disability Providers.

You’re Nonotuck’s Wellness Coordinator- what does that role mean to you?

I first started practicing yoga and becoming interested in wellness after graduating college and looking for more balance in my own life. This interest grew as I worked as a Care Manager for Nonotuck from 2012-2015 in what was then the South Hadley and Greenfield offices, and is now the Conz St. program. 

During this time, through my own personal experience and what I saw around me, I became more and more interested in how people can cultivate wellness and peace and balance in their lives, while also showing up to serve their communities, in the way that {everyone here at Nonotuck does}. 

In 2015 I left Nonotuck to search for answers to this question at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. There, I received my Yoga Teacher certification and I worked as the coordinator for the RISE program, which is an evidence-based mindfulness program designed to teach stress resilience tools to frontline professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, law enforcement, and folks in Human Services {like at Nonotuck}. 

RISE was just getting off the ground and I immediately saw that this could be an amazing opportunity for Nonotuck employees. Kripalu and Nonotuck leadership both saw that this could be a really great partnership and we were able to bring the first of what would be many groups of Nonotuck employees for a 5 day retreat at Kripalu to learn tools that they could bring back.

In 2019, after the birth of my daughter I was looking for an organization that really values families and the role of the caregiver and found my way back to Nonotuck. 

I am thrilled to be in a position now, supporting the well-being of this community while you all carry out the important work that Nonotuck is doing.

What is your definition of “wellness?”

It’s really changed over time. When I first started on this learning, it was much more centered around physical wellbeing. Now, it encompasses anything that helps a person have balance in their lives.

And I also think that wellness is defined differently for each person and it changes for me on  a given day. What wellness means to me is different from what wellness means to another person. That’s what makes it so interesting and exciting. It’s not one size fits all. That’s why, at Nontouck, we’ve broadened our approach. We are trying to find ways to continue to support what wellness means to each person.

{For me}, that means I need to do yoga everyday. For someone else that might mean making sure they take time to go grocery shopping, or going for a long drive, or listening to music.

When I think of good health, that's where I used to define it, now I think of it more as quality of life.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time in nature with my family, and gardening↽I’m a novice gardener but I’m learning↽ and taking yoga classes. Also, learning about herbalism and making yummy herbal concoctions. And reading. 

You were recently honored for your work as DEI co-chair. Why do you think you’re specially qualified to co-chair the DEI?

I actually don’t think I have on-paper qualifications that make me specifically qualified, however, I have a strong drive to want to learn about people, to listen and to hear about the ways that other people experience life. 

So… my curiosity, my compassion, and my genuine interest in the human condition. And the different ways people walk through life. Specifically at Nonotuck, making people feel like they belong here. It’s something that I’m really passionate about.

What do you think is unique about Nonotuck’s approach to DEI? 

I think our collaborative and celebratory approach to DEI is unique to Nonotuck. We try to make sure that every voice is heard and that even when we are discussing difficult topics, we find ways to celebrate our diverse community. 

Why do you think the work is important? 

As a person who is passionate about wellness, I believe that we cannot achieve wellbeing in our own lives or as a community without Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. A quote from activist Audre Lorde comes to mind - “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Why is it rewarding to you? 

It is so rewarding because I get to do this work in the community; we get to explore and celebrate diversity together and learn from each other. That is really special.

“(Through shared living) people with a disability experience a real transformation and discover confidence in themselves; they discover their capacity to make choices, and also find a certain liberty and above all their dignity as human beings.”

Caregiving with Love:
Guide for Shared Living Providers

Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.

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