Valerie has been a Direct Support Professional for more than a decade. Shareese is approaching her tenth anniversary caring for adults with disabilities. Shawn has been a DSP for nearly eight year. Keith will celebrate four years as a DSP. Nancy S. has been a House Lead for two years. Courtney is about to celebrate her first year as a Direct Support Professional. Nancy has been with OE for 4 months. Each of these men and women work with adults with disabilities on a daily basis, assisting them with everything from personal hygiene to learning new skills to guiding them as they interact in the community. They assume the roles of teachers, chefs, nurses, chauffeurs, mentors, cheerleaders, and friends for their clients, and OE is proud to join thousands of like-organizations across the country to celebrate their passion, hard-work, and dedication during National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, September 13-19.
More than 3 million people in the United States are employed in the direct-care workforce, and approximately 350 work for OE as Direct Support Professionals, providing care around the clock at facilities across Northwest Indiana. OE’s DSPs go through a three week orientation process including CPR/AED, first aid, lifting, medication administration, and crisis prevention intervention trainings among other topics to prepare them for the equally challenging and rewarded career. “DSPs are essential to the success of the men and women in OE programming and the entire organization is spending this week going out of their way to recognize them,” said Ellen DeMartinis, CEO of Opportunity Enterprises. “Our DSPs are the core of our organization.”
Valerie has been a Direct Support Professional since 2002, spending the last four years of her career with OE. “The most surprising part of being a DSP happens on a “bad day’,” said Valerie, “Because whatever is bothering you just melts away when you come to work. It’s such a joy to be with our clients, and it may surprise you just how smart the people we serve really are.” One of Valerie’s fondest memories is of a gentleman who has since passed away. “He used to call me ‘honey baby’,” she recalled with a laugh. “As soon as I walked in the room he would light up and give me a hug every day. I miss him greatly and the memory of him will always bring a smile to my face.”
OE is highlighting a handful of its Direct Support Professionals throughout the week on Facebook, encouraging followers to show their support and gratitude as well. Join OE this week to celebrate DSPs for their priceless service to the community.