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Phoebe Partners with Advocacy Resource Center And Highlights National Diversity Independence Day

Albany, GA | July 26, 2023 – Nicholas Daniel was just 18 when he moved on his own to Albany.  He never really knew his parents and was raised primarily by his grandmother and an uncle in Lithonia.

“I didn’t really have that many people to reach out to.  I’m basically by myself, and I felt like, well, I’ll always be by myself,” he said.

Nicholas came here to attend Turner Job Corps, hoping for new opportunities and a new level of independence.  “I’m on the autism spectrum,” he said.  “We tend to mask ourselves a bit easier just to try to communicate with other people.  I wouldn’t say we’re different.  We’re the same.  It’s just, we think differently.”

During his time at Job Corps, Nicholas met a counselor from the Advocacy Resource Center of Southwest Georgia, a nonprofit organization that has served people with disabilities in the Albany area for 60 years.  He’s been connected to the organization ever since.

“They provide me with individual housing,” Nicholas said of The Arc.  “Basically, they provide us with homes, vocational rehabilitation, college, and they also provide me with jobs around the area.”

Last year, The Arc began a partnership with Phoebe.  “We work with the individuals first, finding their interests, their abilities, what they like to do.  And we talk to Phoebe and see if we can collaborate on an employment opportunity,” said Matthew Barnes, an Employment Specialist at The Arc.

The potential employees must go through the same hiring process as any other Phoebe applicant, but they get extra assistance from experts at The Arc.  “Support, job coaching, working with their supervisors to see if there are any difficulties or limitations that we need to try to overcome,” Barnes said.

A variety of entry level positions are available in multiple departments, from patient transporters to unit secretaries.  Nicholas works Monday through Friday in the hospital’s cafeteria.

“When I first started working at Phoebe, it was like, I can’t believe I actually work here,” Nicholas said.  “It’s the best of both worlds.  It’s basically support from ARC and support from Phoebe, so that together, it’s a whole.”

This fully integrated employment partnership is a first for The Arc, but the organization hopes other employers will follow Phoebe’s lead.  Barnes says the collaboration is great for Phoebe, the employees and the entire community.  “A job is much more than a paycheck.  It’s self-esteem, self-confidence.  I’m really excited about this program, and I think it can really grow and blossom,” he said.

July 26 is National Disability Independence Day, marking the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Jen Williams, Phoebe’s Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Community Benefit Officer, saw this day as a great time to highlight and celebrate Phoebe’s partnership with The Arc.

“The ADA is historic legislation that assured access to economic and civic opportunities for millions of Americans with disabilities.  Our partnership with The Arc is a great example of the legacy of that law,” Dr. Williams said.  “It’s an important part of our commitment to provide an inclusive and welcoming workplace to all members of the Phoebe Family, and we look forward to expanding the program.”

For Nicholas, the program has helped provide a sense of community and belonging that he was missing during his early days in Albany.  “It makes me feel part of the collective,” he said.  “You can’t let the team down.”

Barnes said Nicholas is thriving in his job at Phoebe.  “It’s all him.  His desire, his work ethic.  Every day he goes to work, he works hard, he listens, he follows instructions.  One of his supervisors said he’d like to have three or four more workers like Nicholas,” Barnes said.

Nicholas’ ultimate goal is to enroll in Albany Technical College and study computer programming.  But for now, he’s grateful for the growth opportunities that have come his way through The Arc, and he’s happy to continue working hard as part of the team at Phoebe.

“Nothing is going to come your way without legwork,” he said.  “It’s not what the world has to offer you, it’s what you have to offer the world.”