Ralph Antonelli has spent the past 30 years working at JRC. Currently serving as the Referrals Director, Antonelli brings in new clients/students from all over the country and works with outside programs to meet all every client’s individual needs. Just like with every other staff member who walks through the front doors of JRC, Ralph began his career in an entry level position and has worked his way up.
In his current role, Antonelli is typically the first person who meets clients, students and their families. Whether he visits them in the comfort of their own home or at a hospital, Ralph talks about the program in-depth and answers questions about JRC’s curriculum, lifestyle and treatment, which is centered around improving the quality of life for their loved ones.
“Many parents are very appreciative of our approach because they’ve seen their kids hurting themselves and biting themselves and being mistreated in other facilities,” Antonelli says. “I’m also generally the last person that they speak with because every other program has rejected them.”
JRC employees work with “the most difficult behaviors in the nation,” according to Antonelli. Clients and students come from all over and as far west as California. As a Referrals Director, Ralph answers phone calls from representatives of programs around the United States who are desperate to find open spaces at JRC.
Oftentimes, JRC is a last resort for clients and families. Not taking “no” for an answer, JRC staff members make adjustments to fit the needs of each client and student. They work around the clock to figure out what kind of support they need in place to effectively manage each child and adult.
Antonelli also travels to bring clients home to see their families. In some cases, a client hasn’t been home in years due to their dangerous behavior that had to be treated at JRC. Antonelli had one client who couldn’t go home for years. After being enrolled at JRC, the client who was once restrained. was now able to hug his family members. Describing the mother’s reaction, Antonelli explains “She was on knees crying because I think that was probably the first time in about 4 years that she could touch her son.”
Describing the work being done at JRC as “a science”, Antonelli explains how JRC is the only program in the country “that records the frequency of every single behavior that every student and every client displays from the time they come into the program until the day they leave.” Crediting the 24-hour monitoring equipment, Antonelli and his team believes watching every client 24/7 plays a key role in their success as staff members can make immediate changes to their treatment as needed to improve their lives. “When programs come to see us or agencies come to see us, they’re amazed. They’ve just ever seen anything like it,” he shares.
Although working at JRC comes with many challenges, Antonelli finds his career to be rewarding. Describing some children’s behavior as foreign to him, he thinks to himself “Thank God there are people who care enough about these kids that would do this every day of the week.”