Every year in September we celebrate the incredible work DSPs do by celebrating Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. This nationwide celebration of Direct Support Professionals is a great way to highlight the dedicated direct support workforce who help Living Well meet our mission. Our DSPs are the reason the people we support thrive. Their tireless and continued support of people living with disabilities is essential beyond measure! Without their dedication we would not be able to meet and exceed the needs of the people who rely on us for services and care beyond the basics.

DSP Week is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on all the incredible people who choose to make a career out of caring. This is a well-deserved week of recognition, and we are grateful beyond measure for our Direct Support Professionals. Every week this year we have told the story of a DSP of the week, and we want you to know we have close to 500 who do this incredible job every day, and all deserve recognition.

Adrienne, Annette and Julie celebrating the big WIN!

On Monday, perfectly timed to kick off DSP Week, ARRM announced its ARRM Cares Award winners. And luckily for us, we have a WINNER. Living Well is delighted to share that one of our DSPs, Annette Ripley, who has worked at Living Well for almost eight years, was one of four winners that were announced on social media on Monday. She was our DSP of the week last week and is an incredible part of the Living Well team! Congrats, Annette!

Ruth and Brenda celebrating Ruth making it to the finals.

If you read the blog announcing that we had three finalists in the awards process, you would recall the ARRM Cares Awards were established to recognize professionals who provide direct care and demonstrate a commitment to quality services. ARRM is a nonprofit association of nearly 200 disability services provider organizations, businesses and advocates dedicated to leading the advancement of home and community-based services supporting people living with disabilities in their pursuit of meaningful lives. We were honored to have three finalists this year.

Brace with his mentor, Mary, celebrating his nomination and finalist selection.

Annette, along with Ruth Bingheim and Brace Gotshalk, were selected to represent Living Well, and we couldn’t have been happier. We celebrated Annette’s win with cake and a little party at the Westchester house on Tuesday. And made sure to celebrate Ruth and Brace having been finalists with a recognition and thank you lunch on Thursday.

In addition to the incredible ARRM win, we are thrilled to share the fun ways we celebrated all the remarkable DSPs of Living Well Disability Services this past week.

Nate, Jena, Alison, Stacy, Anh and Jackson, our awesome HR team!

The HR Team created kits for the houses and care packages for the staff. This year sidewalk chalk was sent to Program Managers to help brighten the days of staff as they came to work. It was the perfect way to thank the staff and share fun messages.

Houses also received deliveries from volunteers that included a three in one stainless steel travel tumbler, chocolates, and a gourmet popcorn mix—few sweet treats and a handy mug to show a bit of appreciation! Deliveries also included homemade baked oatmeal and blueberry freezer meals, put together by the HR Team and Recruitment and Retention committee. These were brought back after being a hit last year!

We’d be remiss if we didn’t say a huge thank you to the team from Xcel Energy who helped pack the swag bags as part of their Day of Service program. Together they put together hundreds of treats for the DSPs! Thank you, Xcel.

Each house was also gifted a pizza party pack, each with a variety of pizzas for DSPs to enjoy for lunch. And let’s not forget dinner—DSPs choice—where Program Managers Ordered Out for staff and people served. And our Living Well-Ness Committee also put together a flyer with several resources about self-care and mental health for all staff. It was a gentle reminder that all of us need to take a break and spend a little time to devote energy to self-reflection, as everyone’s personal story has its own purpose and each purpose matters, at work and at home.

Brace and Ruth with a few staff at a lunch honoring them for being finalists.

HR Director Alison Nelson started off her career as a Direct Support Professional at Living Well and considers DSP week a top priority. She says, “I loved my job for both the people I supported and the people I got to work with every day, many of whom are still here!” Adding, “It was that experience that led me to continue pursuing a career in human services. I recognize and appreciate the complexity of this job and know that the past few years have brought about extra challenges in this work. Throughout all of that, our employees have continued to not just show up—but bring their best every day in providing excellent care to the people we support. As an organization we are fortunate that each of our DSP’s chose Living Well as the place they come to share their gifts and talents.”

Our DSPs show up … even when Covid returns. They make the best of any situation and are the BEST. Thank you Alexis and Abby.

COO Rod Carlson, who is in his 37th year at Living Well, and was in direct care even before that, has almost 40 years of experience caring for others. He says, “As we finish up celebrating DSP Week, we want to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of our employees for the phenomenal services they provide to the people we serve. At its core, without our DSPs, there would be no Living Well. It is through their unwavering dedication and commitment that we are able to transform the lives of those we serve every single day.”

Three great DSPs right in one photo. Victor in back, Wonita at left, and Nadia at right, with Lia and Rose. Thank you to the team at France!

From our newest hire to the CEO, Tom Gillespie, who also started his career in direct care, we are surrounded by caregivers who are passionate advocates for disability services and protecting the rights of others. To our DSPs today and every day—thank you for making the care of others a priority in your lives.

We appreciate all of you!