Positivity with participants flows for Mississippi
Communication is key for a Virtual Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and like the river he’s named in honour of, Mississippi Riggs just lets it flow.
In his role with Feros Care for near on three years, Mississippi’s key part in assisting participants to organise and review their National Disability Insurance Scheme plan offers him the perfect opportunity to do what he loves.
“I love helping people and I like to call myself a servant, as when you serve people you empower them and encourage them to be better,” Mississippi said.
“We’re dealing with people’s livelihoods, so we want to ensure we get the best out of the NDIS for participants and their families and assist with their independence as that’s what the NDIS is all about.”
An LAC’s role to Feros Care
The journey to Feros Care has been a long one for Mississippi, whose name has origins dating back to the Second World War.
Inherited in honour of his father who was given the title as a new-born by American soldiers sweeping through the Pacific, Mississippi respects the proud nod to his family and Tongan heritage.
New Zealand born, promises were unfulfilled for Mississippi when he found his way to the Tweed in northern New South Wales, but in a twist of fate, it led to finding his calling in assisting others.
“I moved over to Sydney from Auckland when I was 21 as my cousin had a concreting company, and I’ve been here ever since,” the now 42-year-old said.
“One of the rugby clubs on the Gold Coast was looking for players, so I made contact and they were interested. They brought me up from Sydney and promised me the world and only gave me an atlas… but I made friends here, so I stayed anyway.
“I was working for service provider House with No Steps (Now Aruma) in delivering one-on-one care, before I moved into a role providing disability services for participants.
“I facilitated a transition to work program for high functioning young people with disabilities, assisting with class work, mock interviews, compiling resumes and teaching them ways to look for jobs.”
“Then I was searching for another challenge in assisting people and found my way to Feros Care.”
Life in the Virtual LAC team
A large presence in his Virtual LAC team, Mississippi spreads his positive outlook across the office, moonlighting as a default DJ and comedian.
A self-confessed “introvert”, Mississippi can’t explain his extroverted nature when on the phone or talking in front of people, but he’s happy to embrace it.
“I love engaging people which is a bit of an oxymoron because I’m not normally that way inclined but throw me on the phone or in front of people and I’ll talk,” he said.
“Helping people is my thing, it’s in my nature. I’ve done a lot of work with my church overseas and in the outback working in missions.
“So, while I’m introverted, helping has a natural feel, and I get to express that at work for a living.”
Helping others is at the core of what we do
Assisting on average 30-40 participants and their families a day, Mississippi also plays a key role in assisting LACs to best plan and perform their interactions in person.
While it can be challenging on the phone at times without face-to-face contact and being able to read body language, Mississippi said the right attitude and lending an ear can go a long way towards reaching great outcomes.
“We book appointments and offer the opportunity for participants to do their NDIS planning over the phone,” he said.
“It’s a matter of just listening to people sometimes and not dictating to them what they should do.
“We try to alleviate a lot of queries rather than direct participants to LACs. If we can’t pass those queries on, anything we can do to alleviate the pressure for the team on the ground, we’ll do.
“The role is what you make of it… if you want to be negative and not do anything, that’s how it’ll be, but if you go in positive and wanting to have a bit of fun, it will be.
“I want to help make people better, because when they feel better, they become more productive and that’s all positive.”