Marcy VanZandt

Celebrate the essential work of Direct Support Professionals

Did you know that September is Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Month? Maybe you’ve never even heard the term “DSP.” But if you know someone who dedicates his or her life to this worthy profession, it’s easy to see exactly why they deserve of a month of recognition.

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming is our two counties’ largest not-for-profit organization that provides supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) from birth to seniors. We help more than a thousand individuals annually to reach their full potential. This level of excellent support has an incredible impact on the individuals and families supported by The Arc, and this agency is a great resource for our communities.

However, I cannot sing the praises of The Arc without recognizing the caring individuals who have chosen a career as a Direct Support Professional!

Our DSPs make The Arc great! A DSP is a front line, essential worker. DSPs work in all parts of the agency: Residential, Day Habilitation, Hilltop Business Services, Transportation, KidStart, Community Habilitation, and more.

These men and women teach, coach, serve as counselors, dispense medicine, act as chauffeurs, and constantly update their training. Most important of all, they care for our sons and daughters every day! They encourage and facilitate inclusion in community activities, and they make sure families stay informed and connected. Our DSPs are the backbone and lifeblood of our Arc family.

DSPs make sure our loved ones are safe. During the COVID pandemic, our DSPs had to double down to ensure the safety of the people under their care. They worked hours of overtime, learned to cope with daily changing guidelines from the state, made sure the people under their care understood what was happening, and kept families in the loop – all of this with respect, patience, and love.

And did someone say creative? We saw cooking contests, dance parties, window decorating, drive by birthday and graduation celebrations, spa days, seasonal arts and crafts, amazing temporary tattoos, water gun wars; you name it, our DSPs made it happen. And, after almost 5 months with no home visits or community outings, we all survived and stayed healthy thanks again to this amazing group of people.

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming’s DSPs make us proud! They are skilled, dedicated, innovative, caring, and professional. I say this from the perspective of a volunteer board member, as well as the mother of a young woman who receives Arc services. My daughter calls them friends; my family calls them Super Heroes!

To all our DSPs, thank you for making a difference in the lives of the many people we support!

Marcy VanZandt of Castile is the proud parent of a developmentally disabled daughter and member of The Arc of Livingston Wyoming Board of Directors.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1