Community Living, Inc. staffs over 300 Direct Support Professionals. Each one has a vital role in helping to enrich the lives of people with disabilities so they can achieve their highest potential.
“To me, being a Direct Support Professional means to be able to work personally with the individuals,” Sue McKinney, Mahon Center Specialist, said. “I get to witness the learning process for the individuals.”
Ask a parent what Direct Support Professionals mean to their family and you may get a response similar to Janet Hertz, mother of Scott, a Residential and Support Services for Adults client. “There’s too much to name,” Janet said. “Their work is endless, but I know my son is being well cared for and loved, which gives us peace of mind. You can teach skills, but you cannot teach caring and love.”
On September 13, 2015, National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week began. The week gave administration staff and families the opportunity to recognize the dedication and tremendous difference Direct Support Professionals make each day in the lives of people with disabilities.
“It’s always nice to receive recognition for what we do as Direct Support Professionals, but I don’t do what I do for the recognition,” Leanna Capstick, Medical Support Staff in Community Living’s Residential program, said. “I love what I do. The residents may not be our children, but I like to consider them a part of my family.”
From receiving gift cards to having meals made for them, Direct Support Professionals received many forms of a ‘thank you.’
Direct Support Professionals at the Mahon Center were surprised with a gift from Jessica Cain, center manager, each day. They also received cake, fudge and cookies from the parents of the Support Services for Adults participants. “Jess wanted us to know how important our job is and what we do does make a difference,” Sue said. “And, it made us all feel so good knowing the parents cared, too. The week made me realize how many people really care about what we do. Most job positions get only one day of recognition, but we get a whole week!”
Pam Keys, parent of Jimmy, Residential client, contacted the other parents in advance to see if they would be interested in cooking a dinner for the staff. “This was our way to show the staff how much they are appreciated,” Pam said.
The staff enjoyed the homemade meal. As a bonus, the leftovers were frozen for the residents to enjoy at a later date, which was another benefit to the staff. “It was very much appreciated,” Peggy Dunn, Direct Support Professional, said. “It was a great way for the parents to meet one another and to meet the staff that takes care of their child.”
As much fun the Direct Support Professionals had during the week, managers also had fun. “We had a fun time spoiling our staff for the great job that they do day in and day out,” Gerald Ledford, Social Opportunities and Recreation Manager, said. “It was very rewarding for us to hear the positive feedback from the staff. They were truly grateful for everything, just as we are truly grateful for their hard work and dedication.”