Building Relationships Beyond Staff

The Important Teachings of Al Condeluci

By Maichina Veri

This past September, Community Living Brant (CLB) hosted Al Condeluci of the University of Pittsburgh to speak to staff on culture, community and social capital.

Al has been providing training to CLB for several decades, and it was in a training session where Brenda Braund, a CLB supervisor, met him.

Brenda Braund introducing Al Condeluci.

Brenda Braund introducing Al Condeluci.

It was about 30 years ago when Brenda first saw Al speak at Apps Mill. Brenda found Al to be “so dynamic” and developed a passion for and from his teachings.

Now, Brenda is one of the people responsible for bringing Al back to CLB as, “We need to keep telling the message until it hits home.”

Al, who has written eight books, has many messages to share, but during his recent visit to CLB, he spoke to staff about the importance of relationships.

From the feedback she received about Al’s visit, Brenda says a lot of people didn’t realize how stuck they were, so the training was “refreshing.”

“We as staff cannot be the be all and end all in people’s lives,” Brenda says. “It’s not humanly possible.”

Although staff members build relationships with people and develop some close relationships, it’s not the same as having people who form a circle of security or having that person to talk to and share life’s highs and lows with.

Al Condeluci at CLB.

Al Condeluci at CLB.

Many people experienced negative effects from the pandemic when their support circles were either taken away or restricted, and Brenda remembers how “devastating” and “heartbreaking” it was.

People had to painfully learn about the significant role relationships play in our lives. Now that there is a new phase after COVID-19, building relationships again is crucial.

Brenda says that Al’s teachings are important not only because of her career and experiences with supported individuals and staff, but also because, “we’re weary — and the sooner we can learn to branch out and find those relationships for people, the easier our job will be. And the more meaningful it will be.”

Since Al’s visit, Brenda says staff are planning and getting back on track and applying Al’s teachings to their supports.

From where she stands, Brenda says she believes these teachings in practice enable people to have “amazing lives filled with friends, and family, and meaningful connectivity.”

They would have value, they would have that sense of belonging and a voice, and staff would fade to the “background.”

To learn more about Al and his work, please visit his website here.

Lead photo: Al Condeluci with CLB staff. 

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