By Nicole Mauro
The Arc Wayne owns 14 individualized residential alternatives (IRA’s) and 10 supportive apartments across Wayne County that are home to almost 130 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For many people, a job is just that: a job. At The Arc Wayne, every job makes a difference in the life of someone in the community. Direct support professionals (DSP’s), in particular, do much more than what might meet the eye. I sat down with Residence Manager, Stephen DeCook, and Direct Support Professional (DSP), Kelsey Fancher, to gain an inside perspective of what it is like to work in our residences.
Kelsey has worked at The Arc Wayne for nearly three years. Earlier this year, she left for another position but decided to come back because “other jobs just are not the same.”
With her flexibility, Kelsey has worked in all but two of The Arc Wayne’s IRA’s. When she worked at the East Miller St. home, she noticed that staff were never bored. They would always find something to do with the residents of that house: “If we had nothing else to do, we would go sunset chasing. We would follow the sun until it sets and then take pictures,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey now works at the Myrtle St. home, and she loves it. “Every aspect you look for in a job lines up – great team, great supervisor,” she said. “It is like having six other sisters.”
Working in a large home with six residents can get hectic at times. Kelsey refers to it as “healthy chaos,” but it paves the way for teachable moments, which is her favorite part of the job. As much as the job is fun and rewarding, it takes a certain type of person to excel in the position.
“You have to be here for the right reasons,” Kelsey noted. “You have to enjoy getting to know other people and helping them meet their goals and get them to where they want to see themselves being.”
It’s because of staff like Kelsey that The Arc Wayne continues to see growth and success in providing excellent service and supports to individuals with and without disabilties in the community.
For Stephen, the family-like environment shines through as well. He has worked in our Lyons IRA for about five months and is also the assistant fire chief at Clifton Spring Fire Department and the Midlakes Junior Eagles B Team coach.
According to Stephen, his position is truly more than just a “punch-in, punch-out” job; he could easily consider the residents he works with his second family.
“It is rewarding to come in every day knowing that you are going to make someone’s life better,” Stephen said. “The passion we have for [the residents] and giving back is sometimes better than a paycheck.”
The staff have to work together at each location to ensure the best environment for their residents.
“The staff is great,” Stephen said. “They have the back of the individuals and the best interest in mind for them. We work great as a team and it's almost like a big extended family.”
Working in a direct support position also comes with its difficulties.
“There are some rough times at times, but the good outweighs the bad,” Stephen said. “There are some great things going on, and moving forward, I think there are even greater things ahead.”
“Every day is different,” Stephen said. One of his residents really loves trains, so they recently took a group trip to see the Finger Lakes Live Steamers in Clyde. He enjoys taking the time in the morning to get to know his residents and build bonds with them before they leave for work. After that, he gets to work on scheduling, writing plans and ensuring the safety of his residents.
We are lucky to have Kelsey and Stephen as a part of The Arc Wayne team, as well as all of our staff who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of the deserving individuals whom we support. If you are caring, compassionate and reliable, we encourage you to apply for a position in our residential program. The Arc Wayne offers the training needed to succeed. Check out our open positions at www.arcwayne.org/jobs.
Jessica Blondell, our Development Coordinator, writes all of our blog posts to keep everyone who supports The Arc Wayne up-to-date with what the agency is doing in the community. Enjoy!