Joshua Miller has nothing but praise for his job coach, Brian, who has been Joshua’s job coach, ally, facilitator, and friend for the past six and a half years. Brian’s knowledge, experience, and compassionate commitment to assisting Josh has been especially evident since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

Josh has worked at the same elementary school in Albany for almost 15 years. He began as a Lunchroom Attendant and his responsibilities grew to training new hires, helping operate the school store, and giving out prizes to students who have excelled academically. The kids at the school quickly grew to love Josh and he became like a part of their family.

Things changed in early 2020 when COVID struck. Virtual instruction replaced in-class learning and Josh was furloughed for the remainder of the school year, leaving him lonely. When Josh returned to his beloved school in the fall, his role had been significantly altered. Lunch no longer took place in Josh’s cafeteria domain, instead, the teachers brought the food to their classrooms on carts. Josh wanted to be useful to the school and interact with the kids, so he came up with the idea that he could deliver the meals to the classrooms for the teachers. He voiced this idea to Brian but didn’t feel it was his place to offer this suggestion to the principal. Josh recalls, “Brian helped me talk to my principal. He helped put my ideas and emotions into words. He’s really good at knowing how I feel.” The principal was very receptive to the idea and Josh’s plan was gratefully implemented.

Over his past 15 years of working a school calendar, Josh has had the challenge of earning an income during the 11 weeks of summer vacation. This perennial search for a summer job ended in success this past year when Brian helped Josh secure a position with the Parks Department. Josh worked at a local park for 20 hours a week checking kids in to the pool area and ensuring the safety of all. This position was a perfect fit for all involved. Josh earned an income while remaining connected with the neighborhood kids, most of whom he already knew from his school position.

Through the rollercoaster of events, changes, and resulting stress these past many months, Brian has been there for Josh, right by his side. Josh’s biggest wish through it all is for Brian to be recognized for being the rock star job coach that he is. Brian is humbled that Josh expressed his appreciation to Living Resources’ Director of Employment Services, Ian Mott. He said, “I’m happy to be able to make a positive difference in people’s lives and do some good in this world.”