Crystal’s Story

Woman with yellow patterned mask taking a selfie with an older man in a grey zip-up hoodieI started out at AIM working for one of the day programs. When that program moved locations, I started working in a home where a group of men live. I was unsure if I would succeed there. That was last October. I still work here and I feel I am supporting a group of guys that are like family. I often work 12-15 hour shifts. Even on days off I stop by to check on people or bring one man the wood he needs for the things he builds. Having familiar staff around is so important to them.

It is hard to explain to the guys I support that they cannot leave the house to go out as often as they once did. They want to go to their usual spots; Cumberland Farms, visiting the Fun Spot, and clothes shopping are regular things they would do. I try to explain to them that everything is closed so things can be cleaned. Walks and rides make things easier. Playing games, singing, and dancing at home have replaced the Fun Spot for now. In my own life outside of AIM, I have experienced a loss of my photography business, as so many events are being cancelled. So, I have used my photography skills to give photos to the men I support.

woman wearing mask with man in a hat kissing her no the cheek while they hug

Due to COVID-19, I cannot work in as many homes as I used to. We have each been assigned to specific places where we can work so as to contain any possible spread if the virus were to affect anyone in the homes. It is hard for me to not see some of the people I worked with often. You build relationships and have connections with so many of them, so it is sad to not see them. A person I know in another home passed away during this time of separation (unrelated to COVID). We had a connection and that home will never be the same without him.

I moved to the area in 2018 from the Finger Lakes. A friend had told me about AIM Services. I knew a bit about working with people with disabilities from my boyfriend’s mother who works with children with diverse needs. I never thought I would do anything like this. My own brother has some of his own unique challenges and I have had struggles of my own in life. These experiences help me relate to the people I support. Discovering that I can support these guys the way I am able to is awesome. It has given me a high level of patience and understanding. Some days can be frustrating, and others are great. Another important aspect of work is the relationships I have built with my coworkers. All of my friends are within this organization.

man in tie-dye shirt with woman sticking her tongue out and giving thumbs up in front of a bbq grill

Work is my second life and I have a strong bond with the guys I support, as well as with the staff. They are not afraid to tell me when I should do something differently. I just want to always do better. We help each other grow; everyone is on the same page and helpful. The people we support can catch on to stress if there isn’t a solid team. We have to be tight for them.

When I started my new hire training, we were encouraged to give the job six months before deciding if it was the right fit. So, I did. I realized after some time that I really liked getting to know each person’s schedule and building relationships with them. I know what people need to be successful. This is more than a job. I am having fun. I don’t know how I would do anything else for work right now. There is a new normal and I have no idea what the future is going to look like. I do know that I look forward to growing with AIM Services.

Interested in joining the AIM family? Learn more about working for AIM.