The Arc Carroll County (“The Arc”) is grateful for many groups of people throughout the community who help us support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. From the families of those we serve to our education partners from the local colleges and school system, and from our bus drivers and assistants to the donors who support us with gifts of all sizes, we appreciate many people.
With that said, I write to highlight two groups: our direct support professionals (DSPs) and our employer partners.
The first shoutout goes to the more than 200 DSPs at The Arc. Our DSPs have various job titles, including job coach, day program specialist, community living assistant and support services specialist. Last month, we honored DSPs during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. Like previous years, we thank them for their dedication and contributions with food, prizes and recognition throughout the week. While we do this to show appreciation, we also want to do more for them.
Simply put, DSPs have not had much of a chance to grow in their careers. Fortunately, new certifications that are DSP-specific and nationally recognized are now available, and we want to bring them here to The Arc.
We aim to implement a best-practice training, development and compensation model for our DSPs, and have launched a campaign called “Strengthening Relationships: Empowering The Arc Family” to raise $700,000 by the spring to make this possible. Thanks to gifts from our organization’s leadership, as well as families and friends of those we serve and other individuals and businesses throughout the community, we are more than halfway to our goal. The campaign’s success will allow our DSPs new opportunities for growth, which will transform how we support people throughout the community.
As we look ahead to this model for DSPs and how this will help us better serve individuals with disabilities, we thank DSPs for all they do.
The second shoutout goes to our more than 80 employer partners in the community. Our employment services are key to our work, as many people with disabilities want jobs as much as anyone else. We are grateful to partner with businesses of all sizes and spanning a variety of industries in the community as part of this program.
Our staff work with our participants to identify career interests and learn job skills. When a potential job opportunity is identified, we reach out to people at businesses and ask if they would consider interviewing someone from The Arc. We explain how job coaches work alongside the employees to help train them, then gradually step back as the employees gain independence. Our employer partners often encourage others at businesses to consider employing people with disabilities, and are willing to speak to their peers to talk about their experiences and answer any of their questions.
Every October, individuals and organizations across the country recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which highlights and celebrates employment for people with disabilities. As part of the awareness month, The Arc thanks our local businesses who join us as we help those we serve find and sustain meaningful employment throughout Carroll County.
O’Ryan Case is director of development for The Arc Carroll County.
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