My Life, My Job, My Career: Becoming a Direct Support Professional has changed me!
Have you read Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist? If not, well don’t worry. I’ll give you an insight about the story. The constant theme in The Alchemist is to pursue your dreams by following what your heart desires. In the novel, alchemy, the central symbol of the book, coaxes metal to achieve its own “Personal Legend” to turn into gold. As a result, the idea that all individuals should live in the singular pursuit of their dreams emerges as the primary theme.
Our life is a journey, indeed. There are times that we have to leave our home to pursue what our heart desires. Along the way, we discover a lot of things and often try something new. At a certain point in our lives, we may feel we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. For many, life is changed by our decisions and choices. We can drift too far from home and then often realize the importance of being in a place where you truly belong. Just like the story of the Alchemist, where the protagonist found his treasure at the same spot where he had his dream: the place where everything started.
Did his journey go to waste? No, it did not. He returned as a wise man with all the adventures and lessons he learned along the way. Growing older, we tend to try something new that we think can help us grow as an individual. We try a lot of things. Explore different places. Give ourselves a chance to feel something new. It is how we can determine the things that have greater value to us and learn that there are some things we can’t live without. Change is a constant thing as we grow, and through those changes, we discover what our heart’s greatest desire is, just like the journey of one of our direct support professionals here at 1st Choice Family Services.
Kourtnee Weber had other jobs before she became direct support professional. Throughout her journey, equipped with experiences and valuable lessons, she decided to come back. And it was the happiest decision of her life.
Getting to know Kourtnee
“I’ve been a direct support professional for years now. My first job was in 2016. I had issues keeping a job before because I have endometriosis. I was working in a factory, and the factory doesn’t go along with me. I really wanted to become a DSP.”
Despite her illness, Kourtnee wanted to go back on supporting people with disabilities because that is what her heart’s desire was. She likes taking care of people and helping people in any way that’s possible. She wanted to be a midwife, but because of her health problem, she said it will never be a possibility. So instead of sulking over the things she cannot acquire, she uses her situation as a weapon to keep going towards what she loves. When asked why she chose to become a direct support professional, she answered:
“I just want to keep growing in this career and see how far I can get. I want to find out how many people I can help and build a relationship with. Before my surgery, I was working a hundred hours every week. I’m slowly building back up to that, and honestly, I can’t wait to get back to over a hundred hours a week because I miss my clients. I love keeping a smile on their faces, fulfilling their dreams, and helping them in whatever they need. As long as they are safe, I’m willing to do anything for them. It’s so rewarding and I love it.”
Unlike other direct support professionals who have experienced a challenging first week as a certified direct support professional, Kourtnee experienced the latter. It seems that she is born for this job. Usually, for a new job, it requires us a lot of adjustment, but to her, it was different. It’s not like it as hard as quantum physics, and for Kortnee, it is as easy as breathing. She even has a different approach to her clients, because unlike others, she usually spends a lot of time with her clients outside their home. Being connected in society, letting them experience what it feels like to be outside.
The usual task she prepares for her clients doesn’t include the basics. When asked about her usual daily tasks, she answered happily:
“I do a lot of things outside their houses. We don’t spend time at their house during my entire shift. I like to get them out in the community, and out of the house, so they’re not bored. I don’t like sitting in their house with them bored, so I like to take them out of their house. I normally bring the higher functioning clients to my house because I have a certified service dog and sugar gliders. I have three that are certified. Everybody loves the sugar gliders and the dogs. They are so therapeutic.”
Letting the clients get involved in some activities will result in positive behavior. Kourtnee is very dedicated to her job and her clients. She will always do everything to make them happy. Here is a memorable experience with her client that she shared with us:
“I took one of my clients in Florida. We went to SeaWorld, to a waterpark. Then we went to the Discovery Cove, and then we went to Disney. That was a lot of fun. We did so many different things. At Sea World, we got the chance to feed a stingray and pet a penguin. At Discovery Cove, we got to swim with the dolphins, and they have their own coral reef, so we got the chance to swim with all those fish and all those rays. They also have monkeys, otters, and birds. We got the chance to feed birds too. And then we went to Disney. The whole week it was just awesome. Seeing the joy in her face, lighting up just like that, it was the highlight of my life because that moment was amazing. It was her biggest dream to swim with the dolphins. And I was the one to take her.”
All the amazing things that our direct support professionals do are the result of love and passion towards helping people with disabilities experience a life that they truly deserve. Kourtnee may have wandered to different places and tried different things, but at the end of the day, she gravitated back towards the thing that matters the most, her own personal legend, which is helping people with disabilities as a direct support professional.