A Career of Caring
Caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) is Jim Seabridge’s life’s work. He has spent nearly 35 years helping individuals live life to the fullest in community settings—including working as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Pennsylvania MENTOR for the last 10 years.
“The most rewarding part of the job is the everyday interaction with the individuals we serve. They make it fun. I treat every person I serve like a friend or buddy, and that’s what they are,” Jim said. “We become friends.”
Jim still keeps in touch with many of the individuals he has served who have since moved back with their families or to more independent settings. And he is always available to them—just like he’s always available to the individuals he currently supports. His dedication earned him recognition from the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Association, which named Jim its 2012 Direct Support Professional of the Year.
Going the Extra Mile
When the area surrounding the group home Jim works in was evacuated due to flooding, he brought the three individuals who lived in the home to a nearby hotel where they would be safe from the flood. Telling his coworkers affected by the flooding to tend to their homes and families, Jim stayed with the residents himself. He made sure they had everything they needed and that they were comfortable and had activities to occupy themselves until they could return home three days later.
Then there was George, a new resident who had difficulty transitioning into the home. Jim wanted to help George feel at ease. He spent as much time with him as he could—even coming in on his days off. Soon, the two bonded, and with Jim’s patient help, George embraced life in his new home and community. Today, George is thriving. He has become very active and loves going out into the community with Jim and his roommates. For his part, Jim attributes his ability to go the extra mile to the unwavering support of his wife, who is also a DSP with Pennsylvania MENTOR.
“My success is because of my wife and the support she gives me,” said Jim. “I couldn’t do it without her.”
A lot of people could say the same thing about Jim. He puts the well-being of the individuals he serves first. He works countless hours to advocate for them, empower them, motivate them, and help them become as independent as they can be.