Effective altruism extends beyond charity. It starts with a personal commitment to make a positive change in someone else’s life. For a growing number of qualified adults in greater Los Angeles, this devotion to the welfare of others has become a business venture that generates nearly $2,000 each month in extra income.

(Photo Courtesy of Tina Rodriguez)

(Photo Courtesy of Tina Rodriguez)

“In our family home agency program, individuals who want to be a part of the community live in the homes of their caregivers, who we call mentors,” said Tina Rodriguez, a program recruiter at California Mentor, a home-and-community-based service provider for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How did you become an effective recruiter?

“In addition to completing the state’s compliance and regulatory certification, I’m able to draw upon more than 13 years of experience in recruiting and marketing to be successful in this needed vocation.”

What are your primary duties?

“I find caring mentors who are interested in sharing their home with an adult with special needs and helping this person thrive in the community. I support these mentors through the certification process to ensure they’re fully prepared to handle the individuals we serve.”

What major incentives do you offer mentors?

“Mentors receive a monthly stipend to reimburse expenses associated with administering care. In addition, they are provided with all of the required skill development classes and certifications by California Mentor at no cost.”

Why is there a growing need for responsible caregivers?

“In metro L.A., there are thousands of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who don’t have a loving family home. Some may have outlived with parents, while others may be living in more restrictive settings due to a lack of options. They all deserve the same opportunity that we have, to live as part of the community.”

What is your message to aspiring caregivers?

“You don’t have to be a homeowner to become a mentor, but you do have to be at least 21 years old, have a spare bedroom and want to make a difference. As a mentor, you’ll not only change the life of the individual you support, you’ll change yours, too.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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