on Thursday, September 16, 2021
"Being a DSP at EPI is a privilege, it's a call to service. It's a call to serve," Gloria, DSP since 2013.
"Being a DSP means being reliable, patient, compassionate and willing to make a difference in the lives of people we support," Kim, DSP since 2002.
EPI along with their national association, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), takes this week each year to celebrate the amazing work of a Direct Support Professional (DSP).
"Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year! This has been a difficult year and a half for many. Making it all too easy to focus on the negative but in the midst of these lows, there have been many positives coming from the difference makers, our direct support professionals. They have been my source of inspiration throughout this whole pandemic and deserve this recognition," shared Chris Sparks, EPI's Executive Director.
Sparks continued, "in these conditions, showing up to work anywhere right now gets you full credit, but when you show up and work with a full and loving heart, like our DSPs all do, that is truly going above and beyond and is what makes our direct support staff so incredible. I want them to know we see them, and appreciate their efforts. They give so much and rarely receive any or much recognition and this week we try to change that."
We asked a few of the people supported by direct support professionals and this is what they had to say.
"I thank Chu for her kindness and for being nice all of the time. I feel like I can open up to her more than other people," said Jeremy.
"I thank Wilson for being there. I like having the same staff and knowing that most of the time it's going to be him," shared Daniel.
"No matter the circumstances, our DSPs willingly inconvenience themselves for the benefit of others. They comfort those who are struggling, they sit and calm someone's fears while their own fears are raging, that is what we call service powered with love," shared Chris.
How does EPI celebrate this week? We say thank you, we celebrate them with a ceremony and a gift, but another way to show our support is by continuously fighting for more funding to pay our direct support professionals a fairer wage. We acknowledge we have made some progress in increasing their wages this year by $2 an hour back in July, but we promise we are not done advocating for better pay.