The job description was straightforward. “It will be difficult, but it will be very rewarding,” Dylan Watton recalled the words of Seth Krakauer, AHRC New York City’s Employee Development Manager. A journalism and American history graduate from SUNY Albany, Dylan began his career as a Community Support Professional at the Cyril Weinberg Day Center in Long Island City.
“It was definitely unexpected,” said Dylan. However, he had grown up around people with disabilities. His mother is a special education teacher and his paternal grandmother worked at Bernard Fineson Developmental Center. “Despite my family’s history, I had never before considered going into the disability field,” he said.
Working as a CSP was initially challenging for Dylan. He grew into the job. After a few months, he began working closely with Arthur Fairchild. “He is charming and full of life,” Dylan said. Arthur would play a Sade CD in the morning and the same Michael Jackson music videos at 1:30 p.m.
Dylan began to recognize Arthur’s social personality through his daily trips to the local diner for coffee, his love of singing, and weekly visits to the library in Astoria. “Arthur is the person most responsible for changing the way I view and interact with people with disabilities,” Dylan said.
It didn’t take long before Dylan accepted a position as AHRC New York City’s Communications Coordinator. Today he writes inspiring stories and shoots photographs for AHRC NYC’s website and social media feeds. “I wouldn’t be as good at this job had I not worked in direct support,” Dylan said. “Working at Cyril Weinberg made me a better writer. I’m able to pull from my experiences as a CSP.”
Shortly after he settled into the position, Dylan commissioned a portrait painting from Arthur. It is hanging up in his home along with other works of art created by artists with developmental disabilities. As he interviews staff members from throughout AHRC NYC, Dylan appreciates the breadth of creativity and empathy DSPs display every day as they enhance the lives of the people they support.
“Whether it’s art initiatives or community trips or volunteering or even just helping a person eat their lunch, my colleagues at Cyril Weinberg along with all of AHRC NYC’s direct care professionals do incredible work daily that so few people outside of our field know about,” Dylan said, “It is a privilege to be able to share their stories.”