A DSP Appreciation Week Story

Being a DSP is as rewarding as it is challenging. Whether working in a home setting, or out in the community, DSPs are the foundation of any company providing support to those with intellectual disabilities. That support continues to change the lives of countless individuals, within OPG and beyond.

David Woodhouse has been receiving supports from OPG since November 2007. David has struggled with anxiety and social skills since high school. Due to this, upon seeking the support of OPG, he was initially only comfortable taking part in one-on-one sessions.

Now 10 years later, David is thriving within a community habilitation group of four other adults. Receiving minimal individual support, he is also volunteering at The Well Coffeehouse in Fishers, IN. “I like being a cashier,” he told me. “I restock sugar and wash tables. The people are nice.”

David volunteering at The Well Coffeehouse

Mark Loggins, a DSP who works directly with David at the coffeehouse, has been able to see the progress David has made within the workforce first-hand. “He used to work at the YMCA folding towels. He also worked at Carmel library. It’s a pretty big deal.” When asked what DSP appreciation week means to him, Mark reflected on the role he has in David’s life. “It’s unique. It makes me thankful for the job I have.”

While David does receive one-on-one support at work and through Music Therapy, his heart resides within the community. At work, David greets people as they walk through the door, and has incrementally increased his responsibilities – something which he struggled with when volunteering at the YMCA. “I like OPG. It gets me out the house,” he says. “It helps me be a part of the community. I have made friends.”

David’s involvement in the community has been primarily facilitated through his pod group at OPG – a group of individuals who get together each week to take part in activities, both in and out of the office. Brian Shively, a Quality Enhancement Specialist who runs David’s pod group, has been working with him for almost five years.

“No matter the day or what I am feeling, it is always so refreshing to spend time with the people I support,” Brian tells me. “It helps to ground me and remind me of the bigger picture of humanity.”

In thinking about the true meaning of community habilitation, Brian recalls the way in which his childhood youth group formed the friendships he holds closest to this day. “I want that same experience for all of the people I support.” And how pod groups at OPG are the catalyst for both lifelong friendships and memories. “It puts people together who may never have known each other otherwise.”

Since being part of a pod group, Brian has made great strides in keeping David engaged, which has led to him becoming more accepting of both new activities and people alike. When I asked David about his favorite community outing he’s been involved with, “going to a baseball game” was an instant highlight. “I also enjoy going to the YMCA because it’s calm and collected,” he added.

Brian hopes that his work with David opens his eyes to the influence he has on the world. “He is consistently surrounded by friends each week. I hope he can see how the things he says and does impacts not only himself but others. David’s life is so much bigger than being involved with OPG.”

In the span of a single decade, David’s life has completely transformed. From struggling with anxiety and limiting himself to one-on-one interactions, to now cheering at seeing a home run with his friends at a baseball game. David is living life to the fullest.

David’s story, while extraordinary, is far from unique. Each and every day the incredible DSPs and QESs of Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. help shape better lives for a vast number of individuals, each leaving a mark of kindness that will make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

As Brian proudly states, “DSP appreciation week is important because it reminds us that no matter what else is going on (meetings, paperwork, etc.) the core of our work is to add some more goodness to people’s lives and to our world.”

To all DSPs and QESs, thank you for everything you do!

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