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Life in the Spotlight

A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: Rita Barzoni


Rita Barzoni works at Paladin, a non-profit organization that provides services to those with special needs. She has dedicated the last 25 years to helping others. Her co-workers recognize Barzoni as one who excels at her job.

Barzoni attended Paladin’s annual gala, unaware of a big surprise. She was chosen as “Employee of the Year,” A title that moved her to tears.

“I didn’t know I was going to win,” Barzoni recounted. “I was shocked.”

Being recognized evoked a sense of pride.

“It was a special moment and I was filled with joy,” Barzoni said.

Barzoni grew up with eight siblings in Michigan City. She attended Indiana University Bloomington, where she earned a degree in Computer Science. Growing up, Barzoni said her mother was her biggest role model.

“My mom always told me to follow my passion,” Barzoni shared.

While Barzoni does utilize her Computer Science degree, you won’t find her working behind a computer screen. Every day, she works hands-on with Paladin’s senior participants; some of whom have dementia or alzheimer's. Barzoni has a personal connection with this group because of family members with similar challenges.

“I look at the participants as my grandparents,” Barzoni revealed.

Barzoni’s caring heart drives her to make every day count. She runs on a efficient schedule.

“The seniors are in a classroom-like setting,” Barzoni explained. “We keep busy.”

The participants engage in fun, useful activities such as: Math, English, trivia, coloring, playing games, and crafts. They also discuss current events and reminisce.

“Reminiscing is important to the seniors, so they won’t lose tact,” Barzoni noted.

All of Barzoni's activities are intended to help participants, while entertaining them, too.

When Barzoni isn’t at work, she enjoys the library. But work and free time often overlap.

“I’ll end up looking up craft ideas for work at the Library,” Barzoni admitted. “I love crafting.”

Even though Barzoni has fun alongside the seniors with daily activities, working with the elderly can have challenges. Barzoni meets those challenges head on.

“If someone is having a bad day, my job is to guide her and get her mind off of it,” Barzoni said. “We might color or take a walk.”

Barzoni finds this aspect of her job rewarding.

“The ability to make someone who is rattled feel better is why I love my job,” Barzoni said. “It’s a joy, being able to serve the disabled.”

Erin Mooneyhan, Paladin’s Development & Marketing Officer, was excited to see Barzoni win Employee of the Year.

“Rita was selected due to her love and dedication to this field and her ability to inspire others,” Mooneyhan said.

Mooneyhan said that Barzoni is a special person with a kind soul; very deserving of this recognition.

“One thing I admire about Rita is the love she has for her clients,” Mooneyhan stated.

Barzoni hopes that her love of the elderly will affect the community. She urges that we all look to seniors as extended family. Afterall, we might come to that point in our lives.

“Seniors need someone,” Barzoni explained. “They need help just like everyone else. That’s my joy and passion. Just to be there for them.”

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