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National Direct Support Professional Week

September 12, 2018
Aliza and Thomas

This week marks the beginning of National Direct Support Professional Week – a week where we celebrate the hard work, commitment and dedication of The Arc Central Chesapeake Region’s over 275 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). DSPs are critical to the life experience for people with intellectual and development disabilities. They support people to access the community, employment, as well as to live in the community and fulfill the vision each person has for himself or herself.

Direct support professionals (DSP) are caregivers, advocates, coaches, and companions for their clients. Some of them have entered the profession as their first career, while others have chosen to become a DSP as a second career, or as a part-time job after retirement.

This week we are sharing stories of how Direct Support Professionals are impacting the lives of the people they support.

Tricia Helm and ChelseaFor Patricia, becoming a Direct Support Professional was one of the best decisions she ever made. It all started nearly three years ago when she was introduced to the career. Patricia, dove into the field and has had a rewarding experience ever since.

As a job coach, Patricia loves her work with Chelsea. Empowering Chelsea to learn new skills, express her interests, and create opportunities for greater independence is the core of what she does. Patricia helped Chelsea find the opportunity to interact with animals, and together they visit farms and can feed the pigs, collect eggs and participate in Chelsea’s favorite activity – horseback riding. For Patricia it is about more than the money, it is about being able to work in a rewarding and fulfilling career with a person that she absolutely loves being around. “It is so much joy,” she said.

Matt and David PriceAlthough Matthew has only officially worked as a Direct Support Professional since 2014, he has always supported and advocated for his brother, Dave. Their day-to- day life is much of what you might expect between brothers – laughing, talking, spending time together, and on occasion “brotherly fighting”.

Matthew empowers Dave to be the commander of his own life. Dave makes his own decisions, and Matthew is there to help support him. On a day-to-day basis, Matthew helps Dave get ready for the day, helps with medication administration, and helps Dave with tasks that are challenging. Most importantly, Matthew spends quality time with his brother.

Veronica and TammieVeronica’s career as a Direct Support Professional began when she met Tammy. Together they just clicked, so when Tammy needed a place to live it was an easy decision for Veronica to step up to the plate. As a recent widow, Veronica valued Tammy’s companionship, and Tammy gained a safe and nurturing place to live.

The bond that Veronica and Tammy have developed is a close one; Tammy acts and feels like part of Veronica’s family. “There’s so much love and companionship,” said Veronica. She maintains the most rewarding part of her job is empowering Tammy to achieve her goals.

The role of a DSP is a critical one. Thank you for all that you do to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at The Arc Central Chesapeake Region.  Thank you for being a mentor, champion, advisor, companion, friend each day.

Happy Direct Support Professionals Week!

For more information on how to apply to become a Direct Support Professional, please visit

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