Southern Tier Connect’s approach to care coordination is personal. Each Care Coordination Manager (CCM) is committed to partnering with a person and their family to enable them to achieve their goals and dreams ‑ whatever they are. In this article, we would like to introduce 15-year-old Jonathan Jackson, who has a passion for helping others. He has been part of the Fire Explorer Program in Unadilla, NY for three years and is always interested in sharing his future ambitions with anyone who asks. His CCM, Melissa Stevens said, “the first day I met Jon he made it very clear that was his future goal. He showed me his gear and talked about the duties of a fireman. Each time I have visited Jon, he has a story about firemen or EMT’s to tell.” Recently Jonathan took advantage of an opportunity to have an authentic law enforcement experience with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department. Jonathan was understandably excited!

Jonathan Jackson
-photo by The Reporter

Letter to Delaware County Sherrif’s Department by Jonathan Jackson
-photo by The Reporter

This occasion was made possible by Jonathan’s connection with Karleen DuMond, owner and trainer at Golden Gait Farm in Masonville. His enthusiasm for law enforcement was so infectious that she had to share it with her husband, Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond. Golden Gait Farm offers a therapeutic riding program, of which Jonathan is a part. The Reporter wrote an excellent piece highlighting Jonathan’s big day being sworn in as a Deputy Sherrif with Delaware County. Jonathan told us his favorite part of the day is when they gave him his uniform!

When asked about his interest in law enforcement and first responders, Jonathan stated: “It’s important to help each other out in the community. Especially those that risk their lives to help others and I want to be like that someday. I watched videos on how they operated and then talked to firemen at a few different stations.”

Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond swears in Jonathan Jackson
-photo by The Reporter

Melissa has been Jon’s CCM (previously Medicaid Service Coordinator) for three years. She explained that at first, as with any family, it takes time to build trust and get to know each other. Over time, she, Jon, and his parents have bonded. When asked about her approach to building rapport with families, Melissa said: “I like relationships to feel natural, not based on business, so I try to make conversations comfortable and give the family the assurance that they can contact me whenever they need to.”

Investigator David Barnes was a good sport while being “arrested” and cuffed by Jonathan Jackson.

-photo The Reporter

Southern Tier Connect does much more than help coordinate traditional disability services. Melissa takes the time to let Jon and his family know when programs or workshops of interest to him are available in the community. Of course, it helps that Jon is very driven and finds many opportunities on his own by talking to others in his community. Jon has taken several small, but essential steps to achieve his goals including taking first aid and CPR classes, with the support of his Community Habilitation staff, offered through Otsego County provider Springbrook.

When Melissa was able to reflect on what this exciting day of job shadowing meant to Jon, she shared her philosophy on working with families, which is shared by CCMs across the organization. “I focus on what the person can do instead of what they can’t. I feel that having a small dream come true can make all the difference in someone’s life.”

The best advice about following your dreams came from Jonathan himself: “…work hard and get involved in something that interests you.”