SJCS Stories

Building Friendships through St. John’s

One of the best parts of my first year as President and CEO of St. John’s Community Services has been meeting the individuals we support and the staff that work with them. Our direct support professionals are some of the most loving and dedicated individuals I have ever met. They work to ensure each individual we support is living their best life and realizing their dreams regardless of circumstances. But the best part is learning about the ways the relationships between staff and individuals blossom and become friendships.

Jodi and Alex are the embodiment of the friendships that develop between St. John’s staff and the individuals they support! Jodi has been with St. John’s for over five years, and has been supporting Alex for four years. She has also been supporting Alex’s housemate Tony for one year. Jodi helps Alex and Tony with chores around their house, shopping for groceries, running errands, and makes sure they both get to work on time.


Alex and Jodi both come from musical families. They both sing, Alex plays guitar, and Jodi the piano. They bonded over their shared love of music, singing in the car on the way to appointments, and regular karaoke sessions through our community engagement program.

In the Fall of 2016, Jodi decided she wanted to become a music therapist. As she looked into Master’s programs, Jodi realized that all her top schools would require her to learn to play the guitar as part of the audition process. The challenge was that she only had a month to apply! She asked Alex for his help in choosing a song and teaching her to play it. Alex readily agreed to help and taught her to play Baby Beluga by Raffi. She auditioned in person with Baby Beluga and six other pieces for voice and piano, and got in! In her personal statement from her application she explained, “my mission is to create music to awaken a belief in my clients that there are no limitations.” When we talk about building stronger communities and helping individuals feel valued in the community, this relationship is exactly what we mean.

Jodi and Alex are just one example of dozens of friendships that grow between staff and the individuals they support. Our mission helps individuals to become more independent, obtain and maintain employment in the community, and have the support to realize their dreams. Our work touches every aspect of life. Hundreds of individuals across six states and the District of Columbia rely on support from St. John’s each year.

In 2017 alone, St. John’s provided over 25,000 hours a week of direct support to almost 700 individuals. Your support is essential for us being able to continue to provide the highest quality of services, and to support people to develop a sense of community. I hope you will support us as we expand our work to new regions, include more individuals in our programs, and enable those we serve to live their best life. Please consider making a transformative gift of $25, $50, or $100 to show your dedication to St. John’s and your community. Your contribution enables us to continue and grow our work of advancing inclusive communities where every person, regardless of circumstances, has the right and opportunity to live their best life.

Alan Thornton




Alan Thornton
President & CEO
St. John’s Community Services

PS. Consider becoming a sustaining donor! Make a recurring monthly gift of $5, $15, or $20 online through our website, www.sjcs.org/donate!