Walt:

Time once again for the Power of Potential with AIM Services, supporting people with disability and traumatic brain injury. Each week, we look forward to talking to Executive Director Chris Lyons. Good morning, Chris.

Chris Lyons:

Good morning, Walt. I’m so glad that Santa made his way to your basement yesterday.

Walt:

I know, Chris. It’s like nine months quarantined in my downstairs basement fallout shelter broadcast facility. I don’t know how Santa found me.

Chris Lyons:

I’m so sorry my friend who we’ve all had our COVID stories. You’re so good to your family being safe and I know you’ve had some challenges through the holiday, but Merry Christmas. You’re here in our hearts even if you’re in your basement.

Walt:

It’s a Zoom Merry Christmas.

Chris Lyons:

Absolutely. I was at Zoom half the afternoon on Christmas and it was so joyful, but I got to spend the morning at one of our residences because our DSPs have sacrificed so much. Most of our administration chose to work in the residences on Christmas, so that DSPs could have a break to be with their families. Hey, there’s only a few more days left in 2020 and a few more tough months in 2021 and we’ll all be together soon, my friend.

Walt:

This brings up our guest today, Josh Phelps.

Chris Lyons:

What a great story. Josh has been doing philanthropic work his entire life. He’s a brilliant young man. Started as a DSP at AIM. I knew Josh would be a game changer the first day I met him because he never, never makes it about himself. He has been a wonderful value added addition to our team. We could not do our jobs without Josh. He’s at the core center of everything we do at AIM, and he’s just a great guy. He’s a great husband. His wife Caitlin works with us as well in our self-direction program, and his two beautiful little girls. He’s such a big guy. He actually came down to the residents, I was working at Christmas morning and worked alongside, and he is dedicated. What a joy to have him. I know you and he have worked closely together on projects, and it’s just great that the three of us were able to set the message of hope and love at this time.

Walt:

Chris, as always thank you so much for joining us and happy new year to you and your family.

Chris Lyons:

Just listen for the helicopters because we are sending a team to set you free soon.

Walt:

Thank you, man. Talk to you next week.

Walt:

I have the good fortune to have on the phone with us today, the Associate Executive Director, Josh Phelps. Good morning, Josh.

Josh Phelps wearing s mask with an older woman
Josh Phelps with Ellen, a person supported by AIM.

Josh Phelps:

Good morning, Walt. How are you?

Walt:

And a happy holidays to you and your family. I know it’s been a very challenging year.

Josh Phelps:

Very much so. Happy holidays. 2020 has certainly been interesting, but I think it gives us a strong foundation for 2021.

Walt:

You actually started out in the business as a direct support professional right from the very beginning.

Josh Phelps:

I did. I started doing part time summers during college in our summer rec program when I was working on my master’s in education. I thought it was a fun summer job. I got to spend some time with the kids, go to amusement parks, the beach, the movies, etc. I did that for a few summers and then taught for a year and after that I found myself managing one of our homes and has never looked back. It’s been an exciting journey and working with people on greater independence and achieving their goals. I couldn’t imagine myself in another career,

Walt:

As far as getting through the difficulties of running a large agency during a pandemic, you got a staff that has been stepping up. You yourself have been putting in overtime stepping up to get the job.

Josh Phelps:

Sure. With the rise in COVID nationwide, including upstate New York, we have seen a few cases among the people we support due to the significance of the precautions we’ve put in place. Cases have been limited. Nobody is experiencing severe symptoms. Nobody is hospitalized. The team’s really bonded together. Everybody has pitched in. The executive director, Chris Lyons, and I both have the honor of working in one of our residences in Saratoga, Christmas. We both had a ton of fun getting to spend some time with the people we support, as well as the staff who have dedicated their holiday to support those people.

Walt:

One of the things that has always impressed me at AIM services that you know so many of the individuals that we serve on a first name basis and have worked directly with them, and they look forward to seeing you when you do fill in for a shift or something.

Josh Phelps:

Absolutely. Well, well, there are a great deal of things we have to manage as a leadership team. One of the best parts of the job is still getting to spend time with the people that we’re all here for. One of the ladies that I got to spend some time with yesterday actually lived in one of the houses that I’ve managed over a decade ago when I was the house manager. It was great to get to spend some time with her again and share some old stories.

Walt:

You’re listening to the Sunday Jazz Brunch on Star Radio. I’m Walt Adams. Our guest, Josh Phelps, the Associate Executive Director of AIM services.

Walt:

Now, as we look towards the new year ahead, administering a vaccine, that’ll take some time, but I know that we have high hopes in the next few months ahead.

Josh Phelps:

We’ve got some exciting news this past Wednesday and Thursday from the State Department of Health. Vaccines are becoming available in our area. We went through and prioritized groups of people on Wednesday night and then Thursday morning received the go ahead to start scheduling people for the vaccine. We have already scheduled a handful of the most vulnerable people on the staff who support them to get vaccines beginning this coming week.

Walt:

Josh, that’s good news.

Josh Phelps:

It’s truly exciting news. It’s a long time coming. We’ve put a large effort into putting safeguards in place to make it to this point. To have the vaccine come out is extremely exciting news.

Walt:

Right. Now, one of the things you know firsthand is that as we are all struggling to process this pandemic from a perspective, an individual with disabilities, it becomes monumental with the people wearing masks and being isolated.

Josh Phelps:

Absolutely. Much like you and I, many of the people we support are very used to a specific schedule or a specific staff coming to support them each day. Just those changes alone have been difficult. It has been a challenge for some people to wear masks. However, staff have been very good about it, encouraging them to do so. Staff themselves have all worn masks and other PPE as required.

Walt:

Josh, I know you must be very proud of your staff and the way people are conducting themselves during this difficult time.

Josh Phelps:

Very proud. I want to say thank you to all of the DSPs, the direct support professionals, and the frontline supervisors. They have all gone above and beyond in 2020 and continue to do so, sacrificing time with their families, friends, in order to continue to provide thoughtful first attendant supports. It’s truly an honor to work with all of them.

Walt:

Josh, thank you for all that you do in your quiet way. You are a mighty force to be reckoned with when it comes to helping people with disabilities and paying services. Lucky to have you and best of luck in the coming new year.

Josh Phelps:

Thank you. You, too.

Walt:

Josh Phelps, Associate Executive Director at AIM Services. For additional information on the services that AIM provides or to join the AIM team, go to aimservicesinc.org for the power of potential.

 

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