DSP Larry Collins hitting the town with Larry and David.

Larry and David hitting the town with Larry Collins, DSP.

The week of September 11-17, 2016, has been declared National Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Week to recognize the work of community providers who provide supports to our friends, family and neighbors with intellectual, developmental, physical, and other disabilities.

Much of the work completed by Columbia’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) goes unseen, but that does not make it any less critical to this community and the individuals whose lives are enriched daily by these incredible men and women.

DSP Tunde Opakunle with Jon at a Mizzou football game.

Jon with Tunde Opakunle, DSP, at a Mizzou football game.

“It is difficult to be a DSP…there are times that they don’t receive direct appreciation while they are caring for our individuals,” says Craig Valone, Director of ACT’s Day Program. “Our DSPs are natural caregivers and do a service that couldn’t go without being done.”

ACT will be showing gratitude to our DSPs all week long! Each day is earmarked with something special as a way to say thank you. DSPs among the different programs will be showered with food, prizes, adoration and more!

“Each day I will deliver goodies with a note of appreciation to the DSPs in my program. I greatly appreciate their hard work…everyday they have a positive impact on the lives of the individuals we serve. It is nice to remind them of that,” says Jessica Mahon, Director of ACT’s Career Services.

To kick off the week, ACT and other partnering agencies (Boone County Family Resources, and Woodhaven) are hosting a reception to honor our DSPs from 1pm-3pm on September 13 at Woodhaven.

A proclamation will be read declaring the week of September 11-17 as Columbia’s own DSP Week.

DSP Phoebe Gray dancing with Buddy.

Phoebe Gray, DSP, dancing with Buddy.

All are invited to join the event, which will also feature a ribbon cutting by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, heartfelt remarks from DSPs, and light refreshments.

The need for quality supports provided by DSPs is constantly growing as the residents of this community age and the number of people living with disabilities continues to increase.

Columbia and Boone County are blessed to have so many dedicated men and women who have chosen the Direct Support profession. Their work empowers so many individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently as members of this community.

Day Program’s Manager Michelle Bell says, “Without [DSPs] we would not be able to provide the service we do. They are crucial to our mission and the backbone of our program.”

During Direct Support Professional Week, ACT, Boone County Family Resources, and Woodhaven would like to encourage the public to learn about the services provided by DSPs and to help us celebrate the great works of these men and women.