A twenty-something year old Joe Greene, who studied electrical engineering, had been working in retail for eight years when he decided it was time for a change. Unsure of where to go next, he agreed to work as a laborer in his friend’s masonry business while keeping an eye out for other opportunities.
During this time, Joe worked in Margaretville and was approached by a gentleman from The Arc of Delaware County to come to work as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in the Residential program. Joe had no idea what that would entail. Curious, he asked to hear more about the position, to which he was told,
“Well, if you’re interested, you’ll go and find out, because that is the kind of eagerness and ambition we’re looking for.”
Joe agreed and began to work at The Arc of Delaware County on November 4, 1996. Within his first year, he knew this was an agency he would like to retire from. One reason being, he loves working with people. He appreciated that The Arc was a company whose mission wasn’t about the dollar. He found enjoyment that went beyond receiving a paycheck.
Working with individuals with developmental disabilities.
During the time he was a DSP in one of the residential homes, he supported two individuals who required significant behavior supports. When they were upset it could, at times, result in physical aggression towards anyone around them from something as basic as two Legos not snapping together.
Joe was fascinated by how upset the two individuals would get, and realized it was because they didn’t know how to use healthy coping skills. Instead of fleeing the situation, Joe and the team tirelessly supported these two individuals to develop healthy coping skills. As a result of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, including the two individuals, Joe was proud to witness them both turn their lives around for the better. They became well-adjusted and happy contributing members of their community and society.
“That was very, very fulfilling to see two people, that most of society would have written off, flourish and become the people they did.”
Three years into his career at the agency, Joe was promoted to House Manager. During that time, Joe had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Gerald Burday, who was considered a guru in the positive behavior approach, on behavioral support plans.
Joe spent 13 years as a House Manager when he decided to challenge himself to advance even further, which sparked the idea of going back to school. The agency encouraged growth and challenging yourself. After discussing the idea with his wife, she assured him that he was incredibly smart and would excel if this was the route he wanted to take. His wife, who is also in the Human Services field, was instrumental in his decision to go back to school.
Back to the books.
In order to go back to school, Joe made the transition to Facility Director. This Monday-Friday position allowed him the flexibility to work around his class schedule. After successfully completing the three required classes, Joe was able to enroll as a full-time student at SUNY Oneonta.
The head of the psychology department, Dr. Craig Bielart, took notice of Joe’s ambition and hard work. He approached Joe and informed him that if Joe were to continue at the rate he was going, it would take him six to eight years to complete a bachelor’s in psychology. Dr. Craig Bielart knew Joe worked at The Arc, and was aware of his goals within the agency, so he suggested taking courses at an accelerated rate which would allow Joe to complete the degree in a fraction of the time. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, Joe would have to take a leave of absence from The Arc to fully immerse himself in his studies.
Thanks to his loving and incredibly supportive wife, and the encouragement of the agency, Joe began the excel program in the summer. It took him one calendar year to complete 84 college credits, an accomplishment his wife proudly shares to this day.
Back to work.
After graduation, Joe was ready to come back in with the new knowledge gained. Joe was heavily involved in the development of individuals behavioral plans. He would work closely with Dr. Stephen Phelps, who gave excellent feedback and was impressed with Joe’s plans, which felt validating that Joe was headed in the right direction.
During 2013, state policies changed, New York state now required an individual, with specific credentials, to sign off on the behavioral plans. This piqued Joe’s interest; he knew this was the position he wanted to strive for.
“The agency has been nothing but incredibly supportive” Joe stated.
In 2019 Joe began to do a little more research into earning a master’s in psychology. He discovered that Harvard had a program called the Extension Studies, which was created for people who were unable to physically attend in person full-time. However, there was a requirement of students in the extension studies to attend at least 40% on location.
In order to apply for the extension studies program, individuals would have to earn their way into the school by completing three challenging classes. Not only did individuals need to complete the three classes, but it was also a requirement to receive at least a “B”, anything lower and they were automatically disqualified to enroll as a full-time Harvard student.
Being the inquisitive individual that he is, Joe dug deeper and spoke with the pre-enrollment counselor. The counselor informed Joe, due to Covid, the 40% on location requirement was waived since no student was allowed on campus. That is all he needed to hear and signed up for the extension studies program. Joe successfully completed the required classes and became an official Harvard student of the extension studies.
Joe continued to work full-time at Delarc, now as the Assistant Program Director, while hitting the books full force. It took him two years to complete the master’s program. During his final semester at Harvard, Joe completed his thesis with a 63-page paper and 93-page book.
“That was the most challenging thing I ever did.” Joe recalled.
A new position had been in the making for a year, a position that Joe’s knowledge, ambition and credentials allowed him to apply for, Clinical Coordinator. The clinical coordinator’s duties included the responsibilities of a Behavioral Intervention Specialist as well as working with the agency in a broader scale. This meant educating the agency on new approaches and any new information within the psychology field. Not only does the Clinical Coordinator work with the individuals that we serve, but it also includes working with staff and methods for interacting with each other. The Clinical Coordinator also oversees the clinicians and the clinical support team.
Joe mentioned the idea of taking his education a step further, but for now he is focused on utilizing the skills and knowledge to support The Arc’s mission of helping individuals live personally fulfilling lives. When asked what his favorite part about working at Delarc, he responded,
“The people. Everything from people seeing momentary successes to someone realizing their dreams. It is not a cliché that it is better to give than it is to receive.”
When asked if he had a retirement date in mind, he quickly responded,
“Never! Not doing what we do. It is too rewarding!”
If you’re in the midst of your career journey and ready for a change, we hope Joe’s story inspired you to consider a career at Delarc. The amount of growth and potential for career advancement that Joe found is available to you too. It is one of the meaningful perks of working for The Arc. If you’re curious, check out the variety of positions available on our careers page. Like Joe, you might find yourself planning a long career with Delarc because the work is so rewarding!