Leanna Joins DSPs to D.C.
by Leanna Haahr on Monday, July 2, 2012
In just under five years with EPI, Leanna Haahr has accomplished quite a bit. If you asked her what stands out the most in her growing list of accomplishments she’d most likely tell you “the job I do every day as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) - helping the persons I serve be as independent as possible.”
It’s precisely this mindset where the passion and interests of the persons she supports come first that won her Iowa’s DSP of the Year title as announced by ANCOR in 2011.
Just this last May Leanna had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to learn, share, and advocate for persons with disabilities and the direct support work she and so many others provide around the clock.
We interviewed Leanna about her experience and the first thing she told us was “this was trip of a lifetime.” Learning was all around - both through the conference content material as well as the rich backdrop Washington, D.C. provides. Leanna met with and shared with DSPs from around our nation. She remarked this conference was a great opportunity to see the DSP profession as a nation wide support system for persons with disabilities.
Perhaps the theme of advocacy spoke to her the most throughout her travels. Leanna said “I remembered I have a voice and the persons I serve have a voice.” She went on to share how the importance of advocacy and her supporting the persons she serves to advocate for themselves applies to legislature, to the teams that work together on behalf of individuals served, to medical needs and so on.
Leanna continues to say “As a result, I’m committed to listening more to find out what’s important to each person I serve and learning how they want to live their life.”
On the day directly following the conference Leanna joined her team from EPI as they visited our Iowa legislators at our nation’s capitol. Leanna put her voice to work immediately. She recalls speaking with Senator Harkin and sharing with him how vitally important Medicaid is to the lives of the individuals she serves and their continual work towards greater independence.
For many, Medicaid is the primary funding source through which they receive the services that help individuals stay independent and safe in their home and community. She shared the importance EPI places on our responsibility to utilize this money as efficiently as possible.
Leanna encourages everybody to find their voice. Please advocate with persons who are living with a disability. To receive notification of legislative “calls to action,” like us on Facebook or sign up for our eNews online.