Two men sitting in a car, one with a big beard wearing a mask and another with a hat smilingWorking through COVID-19 has inevitably brought forth a lot of new experiences and learning opportunities in this line of work. A few months ago I stepped down from a manager position to support people in our day program. When COVID shut that down, I was assigned to work in a particular home. This assignment was a blessing as it brought things full circle for me. On June 26, 2020 I am celebrating 20 years with AIM. It is in the very house where I am working now, that I began my journey with AIM. It is a reunion of sorts. It has been great reconnecting with everyone, a reminder of all that I have learned along the way, and how much AIM has grown in terms of quantity, and more importantly quality, of supports we provide.

During the early stages of the quarantine everyone was overjoyed with the fact they weren’t going to Day program every day and chose to sleep in till the late morning hours. That got old quickly as everyone searched for meaningful things to do with their time, so we worked on coming up with a new routine together. Right now that consists of a morning ride and an afternoon ride with activities and lunch in between.

Woman sitting in car with man hanging in window with maskNearly every morning I walk through the front door, Willy is there to greet me standing next to his sign board showing me that he is ready for a road trip. On the few days he doesn’t, Johnny will get his attention and remind him “Willy, let’s go for a ride”. Elena enjoys the rides as well. Nina usually chooses to, in her words, “stay home and not move an inch.” I think she just likes the peace and quiet when we’re gone so she can read her stories. She has dozens of books memorized that she recites. On our rides we like to sing along to the radio, at times to the tops of our lungs. Elena likes Gospel and Contemporary Christian music and Johnny likes just about anything but his favorites are Country, Bluegrass, and anything by Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses. Willy is happy as long as he’s cruising.

Early on one of our favorite places to go was Huddle Bay Beach up in Bolton, but that soon closed along with all of the other beaches, so we took to exploring every back road and the Lake George, Warrensburg, Chestertown areas. I think we have been down every road at least twice. We were surprised to find so many dirt roads up there. It was like stepping back to a simpler time.

Cookouts on the back deck have become quite popular. Every time I fire up the grill Elena asks the same question” Are we barbequing again?” with curious delight. Nina will ask. “What are we having, chicken?”

Arts and crafts are also a hit. Coloring and drawing on the back deck while listening to music is the most popular. Everyone keeps in touch with family and friends via video chat and phone calls.

One of the positive outcomes during this quarantine is that instead of living lives of point A to point B, we are finding the time to see all of the beautiful details in between. Things we would usually miss in our busyness. That could be anything from going down that road you’ve driven by 100 times, to studying the expressions and mannerisms of those around you and really paying attention to the small talk.

At its core, life is about relationships and COVID life has increased our awareness of what is really important.

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