Our mission as an agency is to help ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live full, meaningful lives. We strive to ensure that each person we support is given opportunities to pursue their interests and enjoy their independence to the greatest extent possible, while offering them the assistance they need to accomplish that.
Few people embody Life’s WORC’s mission and emphasis on person-centered supports as much as Joseph.
In early 2020 Joe had been living independently in an apartment with support from an outside agency. He enjoyed his job working at BJs, playing sports, and having his independence as an adult in his late 30s. Due to a variety of factors, he became temporarily unemployed and there were some issues with his benefits which made him unable to stay in his apartment, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, so safe housing was of critical importance.
At that time Life’s WORC stepped in and was able to secure him a spot in our Westbury residence. Since then, Joe has returned to work at BJs and his benefits are back in order, so he hopes to return to independent living having learned some valuable lessons in the process. In the meantime, he is enjoying his time with his new roommates.
“I am trying to be a role model and a mentor for them,” Joseph explains. “I want to get the others to do the things that I can do and realize they have the same capabilities.” While he is extremely grateful for the roof over his head, as he puts it, he also is taking this time to focus on what he can learn and do better to help ensure that he can return to his life in the community soon.
Joseph is also very happy to be back at work at BJs, where he works the doors checking membership cards at the entrance and receipts at the exit. “I saved somebody’s life last year,” Joseph notes. “There was a man at self-checkout and he collapsed and wasn’t breathing. Another worker and I helped him and performed CPR and got the AED and we kept him going until the police and ambulances got there.” Having obtained his CPR and AED certification a year prior certainly proved to be a great decision in this instance, and Joe is looking forward to recertifying again soon.
When he’s not at work, Joseph enjoys playing basketball, flag football and softball in local leagues, but his favorite hobby is working as a DJ, entertaining friends at events. “I like rap – old school rap and new rap,” Joseph says. “But at parties I play whatever it takes to get the crowd going. I like to keep them dancing and having a good time.” When Joe turned 40 earlier this year, his favorite DJ, Cutmaster C from radio station Hot 97, surprised him with a visit, thanks to a staff member who knew he was a fan and happened to be related to the famous disc jockey. “It’s my favorite memory so far here.”
“I’ve known Joe for around 15 years,” says Life’s WORC Residential Director Aaron Surry. “Joe is very independent and in all honesty, can and should be living on his own.” Aaron is grateful to the team that helped ensure placement for Joseph last year and is working with him to help him return to that independent living in the near future. “Joe is more to me than just someone who resides within our agency. He is like family to me and someone I hold dear to my heart.”
Asked about his thoughts on Life’s WORC’s 50th Anniversary, Joseph acknowledged that it’s very special, because the agency itself is so special. “They help people with what they need to work on and guide us to what we want to achieve in life.” This person-centered approach is what sets Life’s WORC apart and enables the agency to ensure that each person in our programs is given the opportunity to pursue their own interests and achieve their own goals.
Thank you to Joseph for sharing his story and being an inspiration to others, and to all of the staff that has supported him. We can’t wait to see what Joe does next!
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Life’s WORC, we will be sharing the stories, people and events that have made Life’s WORC the organization it is today, along with our goals and vision for the future. Thank you for celebrating with us!