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Supporting Individuals with Disabilities by Caring for the Individuals Who Serve Them

The servant-leader is servant first, it begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first, as opposed to, wanting power, influence, fame, or wealth.”

Robert K. Greenleaf

Hello Everyone, and a Happy & Healthy 2024 to you! I’ve shared with you before that I truly believe Garden Center Services has the finest, most loyal employees of any agency I have knowledge of. I would imagine any of you that have direct contact with them would heartily agree. Cindy and I, as the leaders of this fine organization, understand that the quality of the care we offer to the individuals supported by our agency is directly connected to the respect, empowerment, and compassion that we demonstrate to our staff. 

Over the past few years our agency has worked in collaboration with the associations that we are members of and the They Deserve More coalition to strongly advocate with our legislators to increase the hourly wage for our Direct Support Professionals. We were very pleased this past summer when we were informed that our activism had been successful and that the approved budget for this current fiscal year included a $2.50 an hour increase for those employees that work directly with program participants. We were fortunate to be able to give this increase to our staff early; raising their rates by $1.25 in both July and again in November last year.   This was their biggest increase in quite some time and I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you that took part in our advocacy efforts by calling, writing, or emailing your personal legislators. It is really true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

There was some anxiety recently however when our state funder informed providers like us that the Department’s way of calculating our rates this year would lead to a deep cut in the number of hours our direct support professionals would be funded to work. Some providers were going to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support and find it necessary to terminate some individuals from their programs. It’s unfathomable that the staff at DHS thought that agencies like ours could accept a situation where we were now able to pay staff higher wages, but that the number of hours allocated to each agency would be cut! 

Having worked at the Division of Developmental Disabilities for years and now as a community provider, I know the importance and necessity of all of us working together in unity on behalf of persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to offer them the lives they deserve. There has been such an outcry from providers, families, advocate groups, and even legislators themselves, it does sound like state is now determined to address this rate setting calculation concern in a way that will lead to zero cuts in our DSP hours!

Meanwhile, here at Garden Center Services, we will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those individuals that we are lucky enough and honored to serve.

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