DSPs deserve our accolades, making a difference, advocacy
DSPs deserve our accolades, making a difference, advocacy
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are those who work closely with people with developmental disabilities and other special needs. They are the main providers of supports and services. People Inc. employs 2,002 of these wonderful caregivers in 180 locations throughout Western New York and Rochester. In honor of DSP Week, September 11-17, 2016, we are acknowledging them for their commitment and dedication in several ways, including this special edition newsletter.
Direct Support Professionals Deserve our Accolades
A Message from our CEO
In honor of Direct Support Professionals Week, it is important for us to acknowledge the thousands of staff who dedicate their daily work to making a difference in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Though rewarding, caring for our community’s most vulnerable population can often be a difficult and demanding job. DSPs' care is needed around the clock to bathe, cook, chauffeur, teach life skills and serve as companions and advisors. Their jobs require physical, mental and emotional stamina over shifts that can be arduous and long. But through it all, the impact that they have is vast.
It’s this same impact that drives the dedicated and selfless DSPs to help others reach their life goals and dreams. By being there every step of the way through an individual’s life, DSPs get the great opportunity to know what it takes for someone to grow and flourish. This is also why the stories of their impact are countless.
One individual I know, Amy, is a true testament to the impact DSPs can have on those they serve. Amy was born with a severe seizure disorder, cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. The doctors said she would never talk or walk. They said it was unlikely that she would live past age three. Now, 50 years later, Amy is a happy, well-adjusted lady. She enjoys shopping, eating out, attending concerts and visiting her large family. Through the dedication of her support staff, Amy now lives life to the fullest.
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DSPs Have a Lasting Impact
Working alongside individuals with developmental disabilities day in and day out, direct support professionals (DSPs) can have a lasting impact on those they serve. From setting goals to overcoming barriers, they are there each step of the way.
Sandie Brown-Maynard, clinical program manager, and her 20 staff members know firsthand what it is like to be there throughout life’s ups and downs. When their site Ridgeway IRA in Rochester, NY, first opened in 2013, it became home to six adults who had lived most of their lives in a secure facility. Ridgeway offered its new residents both residential and day habilitation services, all in a community setting. This created a unique set of challenges and opportunities for Sandie and her DSP team.
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In their Own Words
We can talk all day long about the impact direct support professionals have, but no one says it better than the beneficiaries of their care:
Nancy Pope’s daughter, Megan, lives in one of our group homes in Clarence. Nancy said that staff goes above and beyond to help Megan reach her goals. “Megan’s team leader has been a positive force in her life, helping her to follow through on tasks and giving her good prompts,” Nancy said. Whether it is helping Megan be proactive with house chores, organizing clothes for the change of seasons or helping with money skills, Megan’s team leader has supported her in becoming more independent. “They have such a good rapport with each other,” Nancy said.
Along with an increase of independence, Megan also has received a boost of confidence thanks to her quality life coach, who has helped her become more expressive. “Megan opens up more and is likely to start a conversation,” her proud mom said. Megan shops and attends community events. She has also learned how to use a cell phone and is pursuing modeling. “Megan’s life quality coach shows her what she CAN do,” said Nancy.
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Megan P. (left) with her life quality coach, Megan L.
People Inc.’s Longest-Running DSP has Been Doing a Job she Loves for More Than 40 Years
Betty McClamb does not quit. An instructor at People Inc.’s Main Street Day Program, Betty has been with the agency since 1972. She has held multiple positions over her extensive career and even retired in 2013—only to return just two months later! As a mother of two daughters and many foster children, it is in her nature to care for other people.
A native of Smithfield, North Carolina and now a resident of Buffalo, Betty moved to Western New York in 1965 in order to stay with her older sister. Here, she found work in the human services field, eventually joining People Inc. (then known as Services for the Mentally Retarded of Erie County) as an intake specialist. Over the years, her role shifted from registering individuals for services to working with them as a direct support professional.
Despite huge changes to our agency, including the introduction of group homes and growth from just 13 employees to today’s 3,400, Betty’s drive to support those with disabilities has not faltered. She fondly recalls the many opportunities she has had to work with individuals, directly, taking them on countless outings and helping one group grow a community garden. For a time, she served as mobility trainer, actively instructing individuals on how to use public transportation.
When asked why she enjoys her work so much, Betty explained it is all about the people we serve. “It’s a very social job,” she said. “I love getting to know them and finding out what they enjoy.”
As for her retirement, Betty is considering it in a couple of years. However, given her tendency to stick around, who knows what the future holds! For Betty, one thing remains certain: “It’s a part of me to work in this field,” she said with a knowing smile.
September 2016
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13 DSPs Selected to Receive Awards
In recognition of DSP Week and the wonderful work of our staff, People Inc., for the second year in a row, accepted nominations from staff members, individuals we serve, parents and family members to nominate DSPs they feel exemplify our agency’s values.
After reviewing the 61 submissions, which featured stories of kindness, encouragement, putting other people first and empathy, we have a deeper appreciation for the stellar direct support staff we have at People Inc. and our affiliates.
While all the nominations were incredible, we selected 13 to receive the $1,000 award. To view a list of the winners, click here. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete a nomination and congratulations to our winners!
Become a DSP
Some of our staff work at People Inc. as their main career or as a second job; others are completing their education and working at the same time. Whatever the reason, they choose this career path because they believe in a world where all people are accepted and have the same chance at reaching their highest level of human potential. If you or someone you know wants to become a valued direct support professional, there are many career opportunities within our agency. Learn more at our Open Interview Event on Wednesday, September 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at our recruitment office, 692 Millersport Highway, Amherst. Our recruiters can also be found at local career fairs at colleges and community events – check our careers page for updates. Can’t attend? Apply online.
Now’s Your Chance to Advocate for DSPs
The bFair2DirectCare Coalition was created to encourage elected officials to include in the New York State budget funding for DSP wage increases. People Inc. supports this initiative. The message is simple: These are not minimum wage jobs and funding is needed so not-for-profit developmental disability organizations can pay a living wage. To learn more on how to advocate for a fair wage for DSPs, you can contact Kevin Horrigan at khorrigan@people-inc.org or 716.817.7475, click here, and follow #bFair2DirectCare on social media.
DSPs in the News
Direct support professionals do more than the minimum! People Inc. President and CEO, Rhonda Frederick, and parent and advocate, Barb DeLong, were recently featured on WCNY's Capitol Pressroom, discussing the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition's “300 Days to Better Pay.” Hear their thoughts on this important movement. Segment begins at 36:20.