Saying Farewell to Manager Todd Bailey
We sat down with Manager Todd Bailey from the JNCS Family Support Services department, for one final interview before he retires from Jay Nolan Community Services. After twenty-eight years with JNCS, Todd has some of the most unique and interesting stories to share.
What did you do before working at Jay Nolan?
I was a private investigator and a bodyguard. I loved it. Some friends from my church worked at Jay Nolan and asked me to help them with the individual they provided support for, so I became a respite person. After that my partner and I started to look for work at Jay Nolan and they called us about potentially becoming a roommate. We met with a couple of families and ended up being roommates with one of the people they served. That is how it all started back in 1995. This isn’t anything that I thought I would do originally. When I started at Jay Nolan I didn’t know anything about autism or intellectual disabilities so I had to learn and be taught everything.
How long have you been working for JNCS?
I started in 1995 as a roommate for almost three and a half years and then after I went into Family Support as a Crisis Intervention contact. Eventually I became a Family Support Coordinator as well as a CLC (Community Living Coordinator) back in the day. By 2012, I was the camp director and the Senior Family Support Coordinator. That’s when I moved to Montana. However, my family and I moved back in 2017 and when JNCS heard I was back it town , they offered me my old job back. I said yes; I was very excited! Four years later I became a manager.
I love the Team at Jay Nolan. I love Family Support in the sense of if one of us needs help, we will all come together and provide that support or that guidance. If someone was more knowledgeable about a topic, there is no hesitation to ask questions. I loved teaching Foundations and MANDT, it was truly special to me to know how to do that and convey that information to new staff. I loved the ability to be creative with the training and the individuals we worked with. I loved working with children and being a camp director. I had the energy back then!
To what do you contribute to your success as a manager?
Everything I learned was hands-on. I didn’t start college until I was forty, so I learned a lot from my former supervisor, from the former CEO, from my colleagues Betsy Eger and Dottie Ferral (who unfortunately isn’t with us anymore). But just learning from them, getting mentored, and doing everything hands-on contributed to my success. I love people and I love working with people. I also found out that I really enjoy teaching, mentoring, and meeting with families to help them get the services that they needed. I figured out it was something I enjoyed doing and I wanted to do it the best I could.
What do you think it takes to be a manager?
Someone who can give the job one hundred percent. Someone who truly enjoys teaching and mentoring people and has patience. It’s about conveying information and teaching. But it’s not just teaching them for six or eight weeks, it’s teaching them every day that they work. I’ve been doing this for almost twenty-eight years now, and I am still learning stuff every day about autism, billing, and teaching techniques; learning more information that will assist me in helping to understand why an individual might act one way and another individual might act a different way. The goal is to help individuals get through their day as safely as possible and to make it fulfilling, while guiding them toward independent living.
What skills or experiences would you contribute to moving from a DSP (Direct Support Professional) to a managerial role?
Patience. Good teachers. Wonderful families that saw something in me when I didn’t see it myself first. As a roommate I was learning what autism was, and I knew the word, but I didn’t know exactly what it meant at the time. The first person I supported was an amazing roommate and taught me a lot on how to communicate with them.
I also learned from my supervisors as I moved up. I spent time with other supervisors as well and asked them questions. I tried to learn from other people, I attended conferences over the years, and even going to classes provided at the regional centers. I would read the information my former supervisor would give me, do online research, and as I met new people, I would read the things they wrote or read books they suggested. One of the things I learned was how different behaviors were usually a form of trying to communicate.
What qualities do you see in successful DSP’s (Direct Support Professionals)?
I’m going to go about this a different way: When I’m interviewing people, I’m looking for the same likes and dislikes of the supported individual because one of the most important things I have found out over the years is matching them together. I interview to see who the DSP would best match with in terms of age, gender, and likes and dislikes. The most important thing is making sure there is a good match. Additionally, I look for those who show up dressed professionally.
When I’m interviewing people, I’m looking for the same likes and dislikes of the supported individual because one of the most important things I have found out over the years is matching them together.”
What stories remind you of why you chose to work in this field?
Some of the stories that come to mind involve camp and seeing the growth of the individuals over the course of just one week. Seeing someone arrive on Sunday and just grow every day by the time we go home on Friday is amazing. The relationships that they build and the trust that they found in their camp counselors is inspiring. By the end of the week they don’t want to leave because they want to continue doing archery and get better or keep swimming. People sharing their time together is one of the best memories I will ever have. It’s amazing and those are such success stories.
Also, I remember one story where my wife and I were enlisted to help an individual who lived in a group home and who wasn’t affiliated with Jay Nolan at that time. He was missing and I helped to search for him, and it was eventually my wife and her mother who found him. It wasn’t a part of our job but we stepped in to do what we needed to do for somebody because it was in our hearts we always want to be there for them. We are still close with the family and Jay Nolan still provides services for another of their sons.
What advice can you give someone who wants to progress in this field?
Keep working hard! Apply for everything. Learn from others around you. Ask as many questions as you need to. Give your input. Be consistent. If you are going to move up, keep moving up. I have hired a lot of people into Family Support as coordinators that have been our staff and I love seeing people go from DSP to coordinator or supervisor, to Community or Supported Living, to manager, and to eventually a director. I think that is amazing and I think that is what Jay Nolan is all about.
The one thing I can say is how thankful I am for my time at Jay Nolan. I wish the best of luck for whoever takes over for me and that they can continue to keep the tradition of growing Jay Nolan and doing the job.
“Keep working hard! Apply for everything. Learn from others around you. Ask as many questions as you need to. Give your input. Be consistent. If you are going to move up, keep moving up.”
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