Every single day, direct support professionals provide supports and services to individuals experiencing disabilities and to their families. Being a direct support professional is not a job where you are going to earn a lot of money. “It is a job where, at the end of the day, you know you helped someone to have a better day; you made someone smile or helped them to do something they couldn’t do before…You do this job because people need to help each other.”
Beverly Whitbeck started at Coarc in 1987. Thirty-one years later, she continues to start her day at Evergreen Hall, Coarc’s Day Hab program in Valatie. With a routine, working from a small table with her schedule and her favorite pens, Beverly juggles a myriad of responsibilities.
“I started at Evergreen Hall back when the program was located on State Farm Road. I was a Support Services Assistant for 21 years. I assisted the physical and occupational therapist, helping people with adaptive equipment, positioning, and exercise. Ten years ago, I became the staff supervisor at our location here on Route 9.” Over the years, Beverly has seen a big change in the way services and supports are provided. “We listen; we support people and help them to make choices. Every person has the right to make the day, and what they do, the way they want.”
Regarding being responsible to support and provide assistance to someone who uses a wheelchair, struggles with communication, or needs help using the bathroom or eating, Beverly says, “These are personal things: every person must be treated with dignity, the same way you would want yourself or a member of your family to be treated. I put myself in their shoes; you need to listen to what someone is telling you, and, lots of times, it is not with words. You need to know them.”
Over the years, Beverly has supported hundreds of individuals. A coworker says, “Beverly has a gift: she sees a spark in everyone, something that makes them shine. She builds on that, and then that individual just grows and grows. Beverly embodies every single thing a direct support professional should be.”
Beverly recounts, “There are so many things, so many parts of the day that make me happy. I have worked with one individuals for many years. One of my favorite things is when he arrives in the morning and says, ‘Evian!’ I have been ‘Evian’ as long as I have known him, and he gives me a big hug every day. I love that.
I can’t imagine working anywhere else. We have this joke, here at Evergreen. People steal my pens, all of the time; they hide them. It drives me crazy, it messes up my routine. But I laugh, every time, and they laugh…It is the little things, sometimes.
This is my home away from home. We are a family.”