DERRY — He's a big support system by day, but when the stage calls in the evening, he's also supporting a love of rock music by performing all over New England.
And the people he serves in his day job are all big fans.
Nate Coleman of Nottingham is a direct support professional with Living Innovations, an organization that has partnered with thousands of families in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine to help individuals with development and intellectual disabilities be more independent their homes and in their communities.
Coleman works out of Living Innovations' Derry and Concord offices. At night, he joins his fellow musicians in the metal rock band Wildside.
It's an interesting mesh of two worlds, Coleman said, and both are something he loves to do.
Coleman has worked as a direct support professional for nearly a year, finding the position just the right fit after spending time as a stay-at-home father for his two children.
He also taught guitar and wanted to find a job that would blend his desire to work with people and his creativity as a musician.
Coleman found that fit at Living Innovations where he works with people who have varying degrees of disability, taking them out into the community to volunteer, make connections and offer that one-to-one relationship that helps impact lives in a positive way.
"It's a good feeling being able to help somebody in their day-to-day-lives," he said. "It's making an impact."
When he first started the job, Coleman said he was a bit nervous meeting new people and getting to know the position.
He has been a rock performer and lead guitarist with WildSide for about nine years.
"The band has a sizeable following," Coleman said. "We pack them in pretty good. We played for more than 2,000 a few times. It's a blast being up on stage."
Being on staff at Living Innovations also lent itself to bringing a music program to the organization. Coleman now teaches guitar, sings and leads performances.
Dawna Garofalo, Coleman's supervisor at Living Innovations, said having him on staff has brought a new level of creativity and support to those needing help.
"Nate's coming on board has taken our music to a new level," Garofalo said. "Everybody brings a different level to the role."
It's often a struggle, too, she noted, to get people to fill the important jobs, like being a direct-support professional. That can lead to people not getting all the services they need and are eligible for.
Coleman's clients at Living Innovations often write him personal notes they stick on a board, saying how much they appreciate his instruction in music and sharing of his talents.
For Coleman, it's about giving back to society and helping individuals with their daily lives,
"And for them to get out and see the world," he said.