Bridging barriers to care-giving
Julian Martinez draws from a well of wisdom to connect with the young people he mentors at the Community Residence in Olean.
His unique supportive style could stem from Plato who advised teaching through play, or 20th Century psychologist, Carl Jung, who said creativity draws from “the play instinct rather than the intellect.”
Julian’s intentionally open, non-anxious, presence elicits a playful response from the teenagers he supports. It also builds a trusting relationship based on mutual respect and the warm rapport they share. It was Julian’s on-call work as a Direct Support Professional at Five Mile Residence earlier in
his career that set him on this course. Once challenged about his ability to support
residents who needed a greater level of care, he has since learned that laughter and play are key to supportive bond-building.
“At first, when I had to help someone in the bathroom, I didn’t know if I could do this work,” he said, recalling an experience which caused him to doubt his ability to give someone a shower.
“I didn’t think I could handle it. I was afraid of the responsibility,” he said, adding the great staff and mentors helped him which led him up the career ladder from a Direct Support Professional to a Mentor.
“Giving someone a shower made me uncomfortable. It didn’t come naturally,” he said. “But I just stared doing it. Then, I realized if they couldn’t do it for themselves, it was selfish of me to be unwilling to do it.”
When he faced honestly his reluctance to help someone take a shower, he realized a greater depth of personal value. He said he felt more personal self-respect because he had overcome a personal obstacle.
“When the person I was helping smiled at me, and laughed at one of my jokes, that made all the difference. I felt great about myself,” he said. “The joy of bringing someone else joy, was great. This made the job worth it.”
Realizing he had the ability to help someone by simply laughing together, was a turning point for him. He discovered he could make a difference in someone’s life and by doing that, he made a huge difference in his own life. He experienced the joy of helping someone else experience joy. Immediately he wanted to go into nursing. “I wanted to care for people more,” he said. “I love what I do.”
Julian completed his Bachelor’s degree at SUNY Oswego in Wellness Management and Health Science. After college, he worked at Eden Heights as an Activities Director before coming to the Community Residence where he works full time as a Direct Support Professional III. And, he’s currently studying Nursing at Jamestown Community College.