September 13-19 is Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, a time to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), Life Skills Trainers and other direct support staff. This week, we celebrate these often unsung heroes and the work they do to help people with an array of challenges grow and be active in their community.
“Our direct support employees are the heart and soul of the work we do and make it possible for us to carry out our mission,” said William McKinney, The MENTOR Network’s Chief Executive Officer. “I would like to thank all of our direct support employees for their commitment to enhancing the lives of the people we serve.”
Direct support staff provide life-changing support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injury and other challenges, helping them live rich lives of opportunity and promise. Whether supporting someone in learning a new skill, helping them connect with friends and family, or simply providing a sense of belonging, direct support staff look for ways each day to engage the people they serve and help them grow.
This year, two of The Network’s DSPs were honored for their commitment by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the national association representing providers of community-based services to people with disabilities. Lakisha Stewart, of REM Mississippi, and Sammie Haider, of REM North Dakota, were chosen as the ANCOR DSP of the Year for their respective states.
Caring Support During a Challenging Time
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, our direct support staff got creative to help the individuals they serve adjust to the changes in their routines while having fun and maintaining personal connections. REM North Dakota’s Intermediate Care Facilities started a greeting card program named the Hearts Program, in which the individuals created and mailed greeting cards to family members, guardians and team members. A social distancing Easter egg hunt and window decorating contest gave individuals in Minnesota a chance to spread joy in their communities.
“This year, our direct support employees have been the backbone of our COVID-19 response. They have shown an outstanding dedication to keeping the people they serve safe and ensuring they have the supports they need to weather this difficult time,” McKinney added.
Recognizing Our Outstanding Employees
Each day in September, The Network is highlighting one employee in a direct support role on our Facebook page and website. DSPs are sharing what they love about working in direct care while being recognized for their daily contributions.