A Day in the Life: Kara

I stumbled upon my first position at AIM at an ice cream shop. At that time, I was a stay-at-home Mom. I was ready to go back to work, and I needed to find a job that would feel good in my soul. I have a Masters in Education, but I wanted to pursue something different.

The day AIM entered my life, I had met a friend and her son for ice cream at Farmer’s Daughter. Her son has a disability, and I was naturally interacting with him, as I always have. Little did I know, another family with a child with diverse needs was watching me. They approached me and shared they were desperately searching for a support staff for their child. They said they were amazed by the way I interacted with my friend’s son and wanted to hire me. We made a plan to meet at the Canal Locks for an interview, a place their son enjoyed. And by later that week, I began working with them, through the Self-Direction Program at AIM.

I would support their son for five years, helping him take small steps to meet his life goals. When we first started working together, he liked to “eat out”, which was ordering takeout to bring back home. I helped him actually go out to dinner, expanding his comfort and experiences within his community. One of his favorite places to be is Long Lake in the Adirondacks, sitting on the dock and watching planes go by. After working together, I helped him get on one of those very planes for a ride of his own. Years passed, and he achieved incredible goals and experienced greater independence. By our fifth year together, I felt he did not need my support any longer, as he was so independent, and I wondered what was next for my own journey.

Kara and man outside in the winter woodsI eventually met with AIM’s Executive Director and shared with him that I wanted to continue to do more to enrich people’s lives. He helped me find a position with the Supportive Apartments, where I have been supporting people on their road to independence for the last 20 months. In this position, I am able to help people explore their interests and empower them to achieve their goals.

Over the last year, as we move forward from the pause that was COVID, we have resumed the activities and experiences that matter most to each person we serve. In the Supportive Apartments, we provide individualized, life-enriching support services. I get to know each person I work with, asking them important questions so that I can best support them. When new staff join this program, I try to show them the importance of getting to know people and building relationships with them; they feel like they matter when you seek to learn who they are and what they want to accomplish.

man in a small boatIn my current position, I support a remarkable man who has achieved so much during our time together. When we first started working together, he was struggling with his weight and other personal medical conditions. Instead of focusing on the medical issues that he wanted to change, we focused on the places and experiences that brought him joy, which would ultimately foster the changes he needed and desired. Together, we started hiking and spending time in nature doing the things he enjoyed: hiking, grilling, boating, and observing nature. As he continued to do the things he loved, he began to lose weight and care more about his health. When a person is supported in exploring their most important interests, it becomes their source of motivation. During this time, he has carefully budgeted his money to purchase camping gear, a dingy, and a trail cam. Next year, he will be renting an island and camping there with his staff. I am in awe of the joy and peace he has found in nature, and the inspiration it has brought into all areas of his life.

man in a baseball uniformAnother amazing person I support has also achieved great things since beginning his journey with AIM. When he joined with AIM for support services, I asked him what he liked to do. He shared that he loved baseball. So, we went to the batting cages. It was an incredible experience to be a part of, watching the joy and appreciation on his face from being there. As we continued to work together, I watched him put on weight and reach a healthy size, start believing in himself, stay connected with his friends and family, and truly enjoy his life and achieve his goals. These experiences gave him the confidence to get a job this past summer at the Saratoga Racetrack as a security guard. Today, he is saving for his dream trip to Vegas, and I look forward to seeing him realize this goal. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be a part of his journey.

My focus when supporting people is helping them make their soul shine, just as mine does when I’m with them. I am dedicated to helping them find the things that bring them happiness and inner peace. I have watched people become excited about their lives and come alive in new ways. I feel that I am blessed to be part of their lives. This is my passion, and I will be their advocate when they need me.

I never forget that this support is about them; it is not about me and how I feel they should lead their lives. I will continue to help people make connections, whether through experiences, through relationships, through nature, or the universe; whatever they seek. This does not feel like work to me, and I believe that is the way it should be. The people I support should feel like their lives are fun and rewarding. Being a part of making someone’s life better keeps me going each day. Together, our souls shine!

Feeling inspired after reading Kara’s story? Check out our job openings to begin your journey with AIM.