Career helping others starts after retirement

First time Georgia voter, Carlos Lanzas (52), shown with Diane Lynch (right), mentor and host home provider, Georgia MENTOR and Joanne Chapman, Direct Support Professional, Georgia MENTOR.
First time Georgia voter, Carlos Lanzas (52), shown with Diane Lynch (right), mentor and host home provider, Georgia MENTOR and Joanne Chapman, Direct Support Professional, Georgia MENTOR.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

After Diane Lynch retired from an administrative position from Fulton County in the public health department, she got bored.

So she decided to apply for a job at Dollar Tree.

One day, “A gentleman came through my line and told me he liked my smile and asked if I would like to work for his agency, which is SMILE - St. Mary’s Independent Living Extensions,” Lynch said.

She said “yes” and spent the next seven years helping adults with developmental disabilities.

Lynch moved on to the Georgia MENTOR program, where she has been for the past two years.

Georgia MENTOR, founded in 1991, has two offices in Atlanta. Their mission is to provide “specialized supports to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” according to their website.

The organization has offices around the state: Albany, Bogart, Macon, Martinez and Savannah.

“We help integrate individuals in the community and foster as much independence as possible,” she said.

Through Georgia MENTOR, Lynch met Carlos Lanzas, 52, when his group home closed down.

Meeting Lanzas and his family, “It was a really good fit and I am so grateful to be a host home provider for Carlos,” she said.

Over the past two years, Lynch has advocated for Lanzas by addressing his health needs. Her job is to keep him safe, provide a roof over his head, basic necessities and teach him life skills.

Passionate in politics, Lanzas’ goal was to vote in the presidential election. Lynch made sure he did.

“To vote made me feel so happy. Voting makes you feel like a more important person in the community,” Lanzas said. “Diane is a wonderful mother and a sweetheart.”

Even though the process was difficult for him, Lynch knew it was important for Lanzas to vote. She helped him get his ID, which took about two to three weeks.

“Carlos made his own choices. He was so excited to vote. He got his sticker, practically skipping on the way to the car. Everybody was super respectful at the voting center. He had a blast,” said Joanne Chapman, direct support professional, Georgia MENTOR.

“I have always had a heart for the less fortunate which led to my passion to help others,” she said. “It has been a fun journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it. You’re not in it for the money, but the rewards are amazing,” Lynch said. “I have a gift for working with people with special needs, I think.”

Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, send to ajc.doinggood@gmail.com.

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