Christopher has always had a caretaker mentality; he is a trained EMT and for the last six years of his grandparents’ life, he took care of them. He believes this background is why his work in the residential program at The Arc has come natural to him. Nearly twenty years ago, Christopher started as a Residential Counselor providing direct care and was then promoted to the role of Case Manager before becoming the Program Manager at one of the agency’s residential group homes.
“The Arc is like a family, we’re a tight-knit group. I like what the agency is about and what we do. Being able to give individuals a voice and opportunities is great. I get to see individuals happy when they’re able to do things they might otherwise not have the opportunity to do. It’s gratifying seeing them get enjoyment out of life.” Christopher prides himself on being an engaged, active manager. He lives close to the program site and regularly stops in on the weekend to check on residents and stay involved. “I’ve developed relationships and bonds with these individuals, and it’s important to me that things are done right to ensure their well-being. I’ve gotten to know their families too, and I’ve seen how happy they are knowing their family members are being well taken care of. I take pride in my role and being able to support my residents.”
In addition to supporting residents in achieving their personal goals, Christopher credits his role at The Arc for helping him to grow as a person. “Becoming a program manager was a huge accomplishment for me. I feel like I really blossomed in the role. I was only 22 when I started, and this job has made me grow. At first, I was anxious to speak up or take on new responsibilities, but with the support of my manager and team, I’ve learned to take on these new tasks… I like to be independent and learn and grow as a person. And this job has helped me do that.”
Some of Christopher’s fondest memories at The Arc are the one-on-one time he has spent with residents. He recently took them to a local 4th of July parade and regularly brings them to the park, the beach, the zoo, and numerous other outings. “There has been so much disappointment over the past year due to COVID, and seeing how happy my individuals are to reengage with the world has been amazing. I’ve always been an advocate for bringing people to community events and activities. I enjoy getting them out to experience new things and like to be hands-on.”
On reflecting what The Arc means to him, Christopher says that, “It’s super important to give these individuals the support they need to accomplish everything they want to in life, to give them experiences just like anyone else. In comparison to some other agencies, The Arc has more of a homey feel. There is a family dynamic to it. The managers and staff have been here for so long that it’s more of a family-oriented agency. It’s been a super positive experience working for The Arc. We give individuals choices and opportunities they would not otherwise get, and I love that.”