Kenzie had never worked in a program like SOAR before but decided to apply for a role as a Direct Support Professional anyway. “I gave it a shot and after month two I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.” Her favorite part of her job is forming relationships with the participants. She recalls working with one student when she was having a tough time at school, but the two of them connected and worked through it together. That participant now attends Teen Club at the Family Center and Kenzie still gets to work with her frequently. “Coming to work here is a blast,” she said. “Even on the challenging days, the great days make up for that.”
After gaining skills in the field, Kenzie decided to try some other programs. She worked in the SSA program for a short time and even left Community Living to work in the residential program at another organization, but she missed working with teens so much she decided to return. “I missed it so much I came back,” she said. Minus her short break away, Kenzie has been a DSP at Community Living for nearly six years.
“Even on the challenging days, the great days make up for that.”
Her impact doesn’t end with the participants. Kenzie has recruited some of her family members to work at Community Living, too. Her little sister just started working in SOAR and her cousin Maddie will hit her first anniversary with the organization in November. “She fits in great,” Kenzie said about Maddie. “She caught on really quick.”
Maddie worked the school year with Teen Club and stayed on as a SOAR Summer Camp staff member. Some of her favorite days have been the all-day, far-away field trips she gets to take with the campers. “Everyone comes back tired because we’ve had such a fun day,” she said. She especially likes the outings where she gets to see the participants light up when they interact with animals.
No two days of Teen Club or Summer Camp are ever the same and Maddie says she really enjoys that aspect of the job. She used to work at a fast food restaurant and this is much different. “What I love about this job compared to others is you’re doing something new every single day.” Each day she gets paired up with a different participant and their interests are different, so the activities they do are always different.
“It feels good to know that I’m impacting our participants every day.”
“It’s really fun. It doesn’t feel like a job when you get here,” Maddie said. “It feels good to know that I’m impacting our participants every day.” She’s even considering changing her career goals after working at SOAR. She had always wanted to be a nurse, but is considering going a different direction with her college major. “Working here has totally changed my mind and I think I want to go into Special Education or more behavior specialties.” She plans to attend St. Charles Community College while she narrows down a more specific path.
In their free time, both Kenzie and Maddie say they like spending time outdoors. Their family has a cabin in Piedmont, Missouri, and they like camping, kayaking, and riding ATVs there.