You will see in the September/October issue of The Leaflet where Cindy Haworth, our Associate Executive Director, and several other leadership staff at Garden Center Services, started off as direct support professionals. I myself, after a life changing experience spent volunteering at a church program supporting children with developmental and learning disabilities, decided at the age of 16 that I wanted my life’s work to be serving these incredible individuals that had already taught me so much! So as I began accumulating hours toward a degree in Special Education at Illinois State University, I started working as a direct care staff at a state operated facility for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and/or severe behavior disorders.
I believe it is very beneficial that a number of us in leadership positions at our agency have had experience as DSPs because it makes us more sensitive and aware of what it takes to provide ongoing support to our individuals in an effective and compassionate way. I believe the agency’s mission statement, “Advancing lives of connection, contribution, and meaning for persons with developmental disabilities and the individuals that support them.” demonstrates the understanding that there is a direct correlation between how we care for and support our employees and how well they assist and respond to the persons attending our programs.
The September/October issue of The Leaflet is dedicated to our phenomenal and very compassionate DSPs. I wanted to take a moment here to share the responses from some questions I put forth to a few of Garden Center’s Direct Support Professionals.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a DSP at Garden Center?
It’s about being surrounded by awesome people every day, staff and consumers alike.
The consumers are just great and GCS really has your back.
The consumers are a varied group of individuals with different difficulties and interests. They keep me teaching and learning and wanting to know more.
I also asked a few DSP’s, What do you wish you could do more of/better for our individuals?
I would like more time and dedicated space to teach art to our individuals.
I’d like to take our folks on more adventures and to get away on vacations with them.
Wishing there were more free activities in the area. Also, I’m hoping to find more businesses that would consider employing our people.
Please, next week during National Direct Support Professionals Appreciation Week, find time to reach out and express your gratitude for all that our fantastic staff do.
I truly am not exaggerating when I state that Garden Centers group of DSPs are the finest to be found. They are the backbone of this agency.