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DSP’s are Unsung Heroes at Lifeskills in Bowling Green

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National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week celebrates the contributions of more than 3.6 million direct support professionals, direct care workers, personal care assistants, personal attendants, in-home support workers and paraprofessionals throughout our country who provide quality support to individuals with disabilities.

These unsung heroes are frequently in the background, serving as the hands, feet and heart of the direct service industry. They work in people’s homes, residential facilities, day training centers and in the community. They assist people with personal and medical care, learning daily living skills, participating in one’s community, pursuing employment, developing relationships and more.

Tracy Butterfield, director of LifeSkills Supports for Community Living, said DSPs are the backbone of LifeSkills.

“They walk beside and partner with our participants through all phases of their lives. They wear many hats … they mentor, coach, support, care for, teach, encourage and advocate for individuals. They help people lead meaningful lives in the community and often make valuable connections that can lead to the fulfillment of their dreams,” she said.

Each person is unique and no two cases are the same.

“We have individuals that require vastly different levels of support,” Butterfield said. “Ranging from someone who needs total assistance – including personal hygiene care – to someone who is very independent and just needs a person beside them to guide and reassure them.”

Butterfield is proud of the work performed by LifeSkills’ DSPs and would like to encourage people who are compassionate, flexible, eager to help and willing to learn to consider applying for a position.

Brad Schneider, vice president of LifeSkills’ Developmental Services Division, said: “DSPs do the most important work and are critical to our vision/mission. They are skilled, dedicated and extremely passionate. Unfortunately, because DSP work is frequently of a private nature, they often go unrecognized. We don’t tell them nearly enough just how much we value and appreciate them for their ongoing and selfless contributions on behalf of the people we support.”

LifeSkills has DSPs working in many different capacities. Some of these are:

•Community living associates provide residential supports to people living in apartments and homes owned by LifeSkills.

•Adult foster care and respite providers open up their own homes to people.

•Vocational associates provide vocational skills training to people attending LifeSkills Industries/Adult Day Training Center.

Shannon McCracken is a leader when it comes to supporting the needs of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. After a decade of experience at the two largest SCL agencies in Kentucky, she made the decision to embrace a new opportunity and start her own company, Commonwealth Case Management. While in the field, Shannon has won numerous national awards and served in multiple leadership positions, most recently with the Kentucky Association of Private Providers (KAPP). From November 2009 - 2012, she served as the Vice-President of Public Policy for the KAPP Board of Directors and served as President from 2012-2015. In 2016, KAPP made a significant investment in its future and offered Shannon a full-time position as the State Executive Director. Being so involved has enabled Shannon to stay at the leading edge and have a great understanding of what it takes to support people with disabilities.

Shannon is a graduate of Western Kentucky University...wife to Tony, mom to Davis (19) & Caroline (17.)

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