On October 15, 2015, Leanna Capstick, Medical Support Staff at one of the residential homes in St. Peters, received recognition at the Direct Support Professionals Awards Ceremony held at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board of St. Charles County.
The format of the ceremony changed this year — only one Direct Support Professional from each representing agency received the Outstanding Service Award. There were 10 award recipients.
For one night they were honored, but every day they are Super Heroes to so many.
Tell Leanna she won an award for her job and she will be quick to point out she does not consider what she does a job. “This is our home,” Leanna said. “We are a family.”
Since 2006, Leanna has been a valuable asset to Community Living. She started her career at the Lonning Center, one of the four Support Services for Adults locations, and then transferred to Residential Services where she has worked with the same four gentleman for eight years.
She considers them all a part of her family. When Jeremy’s parents asked Leanna and Michelle Timmerman, coworker of Leanna’s, to walk with him on his high school graduation, there was no hesitation. “His parents asked and there was no second thought,” Leanna said. “I was doing it.”
Jeremy is one of the residents Leanna supports and he has a very severe seizure disorder that was not able to be controlled very effectively, even with medications. Leanna had heard about a device called a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) that when implanted, could greatly reduce the number and severity of seizures. Leanna did the research and she was able to provide his parents with information to make an informed decision. “Leanna’s persistence and research into improving the quality of life for Jeremy led his family to have a strong and trusting relationship with Leanna,” Barb Griffith, President and CEO of Community Living, Inc., said.
Once his parent agreed to have the VNS implanted, Leanna continued the process by locating a surgeon, following up with the company that would be providing the VNS, working with the insurance companies and arranging for staff to receive training once the VNS was implanted. She was there through the surgery and the extensive recovery period.
“The positive changes for Jeremy are remarkable,” Barb said. “The family calls Leanna their son’s guardian angel, a term not in any Direct Support Professional’s job description. It is something inherent in some people, like Leanna, that drive them to go way above and beyond doing a ‘good’ job and into that Super Hero status.”
Before working for Community Living, Leanna describes herself as being selfish. When she told her family she got a job working with people with disabilities, they could not believe her. But, talking to her today, she’s a changed person. “I don’t expect anything in return,” Leanna said. “You do it for the love you have for the individuals. I know I’m there to make their lives better. But, they have done more to change my life than I’ve done to change theirs. I’m a mom because of them.”