When Eden Autism opened a new residence in Cranbury, Joseph DiGianni had a big goal in mind. He wanted to make the house feel like a home.
As the Supervisor of Cranbury House, Joe decorated the residence so the three individuals moving in would feel comfortable in their new space. From organizing the kitchen with their needs in mind to hanging up curtains, he always kept the individuals Eden supports at the top of his mind.
“Everything I do here for them is to make them believe it’s a home,” Joe said. “If you came to the house today you’d see it’s all decked out for Christmas. We all sit around the dining room table when we eat dinner and we talk like a family.”
Joe started working at Eden in 2020, but he has worked in this field since 2002. Working at the Monmouth County Vocational Rehabilitation Services was where he first fell in love with his profession due to the individuals he supported. “They taught me to take pleasure in the simplest things,” he said.
He fondly remembers when one individual received his paycheck. It was less than $20, but he was filled with joy and pride. “He knew he worked hard, and that was like a million dollars to him,” said Joe. “I got paid 100% more than he does, and I didn’t have as much joy as him. It’s just those things in this field that made me take a reflection on my own life. I get so wrapped up in things that I don’t see the simple things anymore.”
As a Supervisor, Joe plans activities for the men of Cranbury House to do on weekends and weeknights when they return from the day program. Every month, he sits down with them to find out what they are interested in doing. “They told me none of them had ever been on a boat, so at the end of August I booked a cruise around the Hudson River,” he said. “It was the highlight of their week.”
From planning memorable experiences to ensuring everything at home is organized and cleaned, Joe’s top priority is ensuring the men he supports are cared for and happy.
“The most rewarding part of my job is the smiles on my guys’ faces,” he said. “When they come to me and they tell me they had a great day or I see them laughing, that’s my reward. They’re the ones who get me out of bed in the morning. I smile on the way to work. I get here. I do what I need to do, and people say ‘you sometimes go above and beyond.’ but to me, it’s not. To me, it’s just what I need to do to make them live comfortably and be happy.”