Amber and Gerry


“I started at Southwinds

after a college professor

encouraged me to do an

internship. Shortly after I

started my internship

here, I was offered a part

time, weekend overnight

position… that was 23

years ago.”

Amber Trilli, Program Supervisor

Gerry and Amber first met over 20 years ago when she first began picking up extra shifts at the home where Gerry was living at the time. Gerry had lived at Southwinds for about a year and was only 19 years old. Amber, who was 20 at the time, recalls feeling an immediate connection with Gerry. “We were both young here at Southwinds together, we developed a relationship early on in our years of working together, a trusting relationship.”

That relationship has only grown over the past 22 years as these two continue to be great friends. “Gerry knows my children. When my first daughter Annalese was born, Gerry asked a staff member to take him to the dollar store and he bought baby bottles for her. He loves to buy little gifts for people.” If you ask Gerry how he knows Amber, his response is simple: “She’s a good friend of mine. Old friends.”

Gerry has a cultural familial intellectual disability which means he was not born with any genetic condition that caused his disability. Both of Gerry’s parents had intellectual disabilities. This is likely a factor that contributed to Gerry developing at a slower rate.

“Gerry has taught me that just because he has an intellectual disability, it doesn’t mean he’s a different type of person. He deals with the same problems that we all do… money issues, friendships that fall apart, losing a family member. We both lost our mothers to the same disease not too far apart in time. We talked a lot about that together and helped each other through those times.”

Amber and Gerry have always been a big part of each others’ lives. Amber took Gerry to buy flowers when he attended his high school prom. She taught him how to be a gentleman and how to respect a lady. She threw him a graduation party when he graduated from high school.

Although they may not see each other everyday like they did when Amber worked at Gerry’s house, they don’t let the friendship they have suffer. These longtime friends rarely miss an opportunity to share a kind word or extend a special greeting. “We acknowledge each other every holiday. He texts me, I call him, we always wish each other a happy birthday,” Amber says.

Amber is now a Program DSC_0013Supervisor at Southwinds, making it her responsibility to oversee the development of roughly half of the individuals the agency serves as well as the staff who work with them. Providing care for individuals with developmental disabilities comes with many difficulties, but Amber embraces these challenges. “The part of my job that I enjoy is thinking outside the box for solutions. I enjoy the new experiences and I rely on everything I’ve been through to help make the safest possible decisions.”

Through the years, Amber has come to know many different people with many different types of disabilities. She has grown with Southwinds and has made a difference in countless lives. Amber never loses sight of why she chose this line of work. “When you see somebody attain a goal they’ve been working towards, it’s rewarding. When you see an individual gain their independence in some way whether it’s learning to recite their address or to make a side dish for dinner, those are the things that make my job special.”