Sohail Peter has shined since transitioning to a Direct Support Professional role at Fresh Meadow Lane residence. At both the residence and in community-based support settings, Sohail uses many of the skills he learned as a high school teacher back in his home country of Pakistan, where he taught math and English as a second language.

My background is teaching. It was an opportunity here for where I could still teach something, and I was even better for me than could ever have expected,” Sohail said.

Gaining Confidence in Support

Sohail‘s AHRC NYC career began as a Community Support Professional at Cyril Weinberg Day Services in Long Island City. He worked with people that thrived on routine and predictable activities. “It took me a few weeks to learn, but after that I was ok. Behind that was all my teaching training. I learned to use different strategies and techniques to get through different situations.”

Sohail grew more confident over time and began introducing variety into his supporting methods. “Soon there was a different activity every day. I had a good understanding with the supervisors in case I needed to make any changes. All of those things were very motivating for me.”

He transitioned to Fresh Meadow Lane after the COIVD-19 pandemic required the postponement of in-person day habilitation services. “Five of our people from Cyril Weinberg were already living here. It went very well. I was performing many duties at the same time and learning to set up day program activities on Zoom. The managers were so helpful as I started here.”

Almost immediately, Sohail was able to establish a calm rapport and help provide a stable environment for the people supported, keeping everyone engaged and within their new routines, utilizing technology to keep them as close to their regular routines as possible,” said Christina Howell, Kent Willingham, and Michael Weinberg from Residential Services leadership. “After a few months, Sohail asked to transfer to residential as he enjoyed getting to know everyone in their home, getting to know each person more fully as the unique person they are.”

A Successful Transition

It was not a difficult decision for Sohail to permanently switch to residential services. “I had been here for so many months. I was used to the routine. Most importantly, I really enjoy the work here.”

One of Sohail’s most significant achievements has been assisting Fresh Meadow’s residents and staff members with the transition to virtual habilitation services and more online documentation. “I have a good background and interest in working with technology. It’s not only doing zoom meetings–we had to learn had to do their medical appointments, as well. Medical records are now often on a portal. I helped make everything easy for them and keep records of all of our visits—we do not lose anything, and we do not miss anything that way.”

Sohail approaches support slightly differently in the residences than he did when at Cyril Weinberg. “When they’re at home, they are at liberty to do whatever they’d like to do. If the weather is nice, we make full use of our backyard—playing soccer, catch, these types of things. When things were a little more normal in the summer of 2020, we still could not fully go into the community, but we could still take them for walks around their neighborhood with nobody near us and with our masks on.”

We also took them up to Camp Anne. We took four people and four staff—I drove there, and we had a wonderful time. Our people had been stuck for four-five months and we went sometime in August 2020. They had wonderful memories.” Sohail said they continue to take full advantage of having a car at hand at the residences and they enjoy trips into Long Island and other surrounding neighborhoods.

Sohail has a clear perspective on his future goals and a positive reflection on the past year. “I would love to continue to grow with AHRC over time. During the pandemic, I always followed instructions and kept myself focused and calm. It was not easy to overcome these challenges. We just could not focus on anything that was not making suite the residents were ok.”