The Typical Life Corporation employee found that he and an individual he serves share a passion.
Juan Armero, a Direct Support Professional at Typical Life Corporation, and Ben are greeted by name as they stroll into Tom’s Music Trade in Red Lion. Searching through bins of records, Ben discovers a treasure trove – Bob Seger, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince – favorite artists whose music has helped forge a deeper connection between the pair.
Juan and Ben’s mutual passion for music has become a catalyst for creating meaningful experiences and connections with the community. Through their love of music, Juan has discovered a powerful tool that not only brings joy to Ben but expands their horizons and strengthens their local ties.
Building Bridges Through Music
Before joining TLC, Juan worked in substance-abuse counseling at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Encouraged by a close friend and drawn to the idea of helping individuals live as normal lives as possible, he began working at TLC as a Direct Support Professional in 2021.
“I love taking them out into the community and being active,” Juan says of the individuals he serves. “I don’t think anyone should be relegated to sitting at home and whiling away watching television when there’s so much to do.”
One activity that many of his individuals enjoy is going for car rides and listening to the radio. During one of Juan and Ben’s drives, Juan noticed that Ben displayed a remarkable ability to recognize songs from the 1980s.
“A song would come on and he’d name the artist immediately,” Juan says. “That’s pretty significant when simple things like what he ate for breakfast he can totally forget but he remembers names and artists from the radio.”
This keen interest in music sparked another connection between them. Juan, a musician, decided to nurture this shared passion and expose Ben to a diverse range of artists and genres. Together they have explored instrument shops, visited record stores, and attended live performances, creating unforgettable memories. Ben purchased a set of bongos and a harmonica, and the duo holds jam sessions at Ben’s TLC residential home.
Through their music-driven adventures, Juan has witnessed a striking transformation in Ben’s socialization skills. Previously hesitant in crowds and stores, Ben’s exposure to new environments with Juan’s support has helped him overcome that challenge.
Ben’s enthusiasm and friendly nature have caught the attention of music shop owners and employees, who welcome him with open arms. Trips to the guitar store and the record store have become regular highlights of Ben’s days.
Their outings are gateways to interactions with familiar faces, from tellers at the bank to checkout staffers at stores. Juan’s commitment to empowering Ben in social settings has had a profound impact, enhancing Ben’s quality of life and fostering a sense of belonging in his community.
Juan’s experience at TLC not only has taught him patience and empathy but has instilled a deep appreciation for the diverse abilities and unique qualities that each individual possesses. Through their love of music, Juan and Ben have created a bond that transcends their roles and has built bridges within the community.
“Never underestimate the individuals we serve,” Juan says. “They’re always full of surprises.”
Want a fulfilling career assisting individuals with disabilities to live a normal life in their community? Click here to learn more.