Mom Inspires Second Generation of Direct Support Professionals
Stephanie started working as a Direct Support Professional at Community Living in 2007. She was quickly promoted to a medical staff role, then a house manager in the residential program. Throughout her early years as a residential manager, she was also raising her kids as a single parent. While out running errands, she would sometimes pop by the house to check on things and would happen to have her kids with her. Other times, her sitter would make arrangements to drop the kids off with her at work at the end of her shift. Her daughter Piper remembers visiting the men who lived in the house and says they were practically a “second house” to her and her sister McKenzie. “I enjoyed being there and hanging out with the guys,” she said. “It was like a win-win for everybody.”
As they got older, the girls continued to visit the men at the house. “I would chat with the staff there to make sure things were good and check the schedule and the girls would interact with the guys at that home by talking to them or rolling a ball back and forth with one, or looking through another of the gentleman’s bucket of treasures,” Stephanie remembers. Over time, the kids built strong bonds with the people their mom worked with. “Kenzie did a day trip with a consumer to visit the grave of his parents and took flowers,” Stephanie said. “He was so excited about having the day with her and going to visit his parents’ grave.” The bonds grew so strong the family even invited one of the men on their weeklong family vacation to Lost Valley Lake.
After nearly a decade of working for Community Living, Stephanie made the decision to step away from the organization to care for her dad. The girls helped. Even at a young age, Stephanie says they did a fabulous job taking care of their Paw Paw. She returned to Community Living in 2020 and now works as the Lead Medical Direct Support Professional in the same house she managed years ago. Her daughters now also work for Community Living as Direct Support Professionals. Today, McKenzie works at the Mahon Center and Piper works at the Boschert Center, two of Community Living’s Support Services for Adults locations. Coincidentally, both daughters get to work with men who live in the house they practically grew up in. Stephanie says she’s proud that her daughters have the compassion, kindness, and patience it takes to be successful in this line of work. “This job is not for everyone, but they do fit in quite nicely,” she said.
Although her girls are grown, they still make it a point to visit their mom and the men at the house. In fact, Piper says she was just there last weekend for a game of pick-up basketball while the weather was nice. She introduced her boyfriend to the guys and said she was happy to see them all get along. Stephanie says she enjoys seeing the excitement in the house when the guys get home or her daughters stop by. “Some of them don’t get to see their family often and it’s good for them to know they are a part of a family and that they are loved and cared for here in their home.”