Brenda and Felonese

Fel and Brenda Peace

“She tells everyone that I’m her sister.”

-Felonese Perkins, Resident Advisor

Sisters. That would be your first impression when you met Felonese and Brenda. These two have known each other for about 15 years, but you would swear that they were lifelong friends after spending just a few minutes with them. “I don’t know, we just clicked. Maybe it’s because we’re close to the same age. We talk about different things and laugh and joke. I treat her like one of my peers as opposed to like a client,” Fel says about why these two get along so well.

Felonese has been at Southwinds for 28 years. She currently works as AIS (Additional Individualized Staffing) in our Moray home where Brenda lives. Since Brenda is retired, she requires one-on-one care during the day while her three roommates are at their day programs. Fortunately, this means that Fel and Brenda get to spend plenty of time together and see each other almost every day.

Felonese and Brenda folding laundry

Felonese and Brenda folding laundry together.

“We go to church together, she goes to my grandkid’s birthday parties, Brenda spends every holiday with me and my family… she’s like an adopted part of the family now.” By welcoming Brenda into her home as a member of her family, Fel makes it clear that this isn’t just a job to her… it’s a calling. It isn’t often that you see such a strong bond develop between two people.

Felonese is enthusiastic about the career she has chosen and talks about it with the utmost sincerity. Before coming to Southwinds, she worked for a larger organization that provided similar services to those of Southwinds. She has embraced the opportunity to cultivate meaningful relationships with the individuals for whom she is caring. “In the agency I worked at before, you had maybe 15 people at a time that you were responsible for. Southwinds is much smaller so you’re able to build a rapport with them.”

That one-on-one time is valuable to many of our staff and residents alike, but possibly none more so than Felonese and Brenda. Anyone who knows Brenda is well aware of her love of Disney. This is why Fel jumped at the opportunity to accompany her on a Disney Cruise
this past summer. Brenda uses the assistance of a walker so mobility was a challenge at times, but it hardly stopped them from having an amazing time. Fel’s family even called a few times to check up on here and Brenda, as they are both important parts of the family.

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Felonese and Brenda, holding one of Brenda’s many ‘babies’

Felonese has always had a strong interest in connecting with individuals with different types of disabilities. She has a brother with an intellectual disability who lives in a group home with an organization in the area. A second brother sadly passed away from a seizure disorder. Fel is also a dedicated foster parent, currently caring for three children with special needs. She doesn’t think twice about the amazing work that she does both with Southwinds and at home. “I just like dealing with people. I’m a people person, you know?”

Her commitment to her work, her family and those people like Brenda who fall into both categories is what makes Felonese such a valuable asset to Southwinds. The amount of respect she has for the individuals we serve is apparent in the way she speaks about her work. “It’s rewarding, and these people have hearts. Some jobs you have to find your niche. If you care about people, this is the kind of field where you will find your happiness.”