Helpers and Heroes
By Superintendent Stephen L. Williams
Helpers and heroes have emerged in these dark days of the coronavirus pandemic. From healthcare workers in ICUs to deputies delivering groceries and medicine, scores of caring people are going out of their way to ease the pain, suffering and loneliness we are experiencing during this unprecedented time.
There is another group of compassionate helpers and heroes in our midst. They are Direct Support Professionals (DSP) who assist people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Some work in adult day service locations while others help with cooking, cleaning and personal care in the home.
In ordinary circumstances, it is the job of a DSP to help people with disabilities live their lives, but we are not in ordinary times.
When Governor DeWine issued a State of Emergency in March, places where some people with disabilities gathered closed or changed the way they provided supports. This meant hundreds of people stayed home. Some live with family who have surrounded them with love and support. Others live by themselves or with others, dependent upon DSPs for assistance.
After the state of emergency was declared, many of these dedicated DSPs left the safety of their own homes to work around the clock in residential settings, remaining with the people they support to ensure their health and well-being. In truth, we have seen DSPs on the job for days at a time. They are providing so much more than service.
They are there for people who are healthy and those who are sick with COVID-19. They smile watching someone slowly recover and are shedding countless tears when others succumb to this insidious disease. Some have even become sick themselves.
DSPs have shown unequalled commitment and compassion in this crisis. Before COVID-19, they were family, ally and confidante to the persons they served. In this crisis, they are all that and more. They have emerged heroes, ordinary people doing extraordinary things to comfort and make life easier in this difficult time.
To DSPs everywhere, thank you for giving of yourselves completely. Thank you for providing the love, support and caring we all need.
Thank you for doing more than your job.
Peggy West, a DSP employed by ResCare, Inc., and Mary Ellen Wilson took advantage of a warm day to plant flowers for the front porch of the home where Mary Ellen lives. DSPs like Peggy have gone the extra mile to ensure the health and well-being of the people they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.