When I wake up in the morning, my three-year-old son immediately asks me not to go to work. He is 3, but he understands that we “can’t go to work because of the virus”. My husband and I explain to him and his sister that we are both essential workers. We go to work so others can stay home.
My mom is our all-star grandmother and teacher. As we began remote learning with our daughter who is in second grade, my mother started with no technology knowledge at all. She has learned right alongside my daughter. My daughter has been struggling a bit; she just misses her friends and wants to see them and have sleepovers. The routine at home becomes boring, but she does understand that she stays home so she doesn’t get sick. When we get home from work we take the kids for walks or bike rides as often as we can. Rainy days are the worst.
I go from home to work and I am constantly helping people work through the difficulties we face because of COVID-19. When this began, I would walk through the door and the first thing someone would ask me was, “when are we going back to day program?”. That has stopped and now it is, “are we going for a ride”, or “want to play rummy?”.
It is difficult for the people I support. They are unable to do most of the things they love. In the home where I work, there are a lot of independent people who are not able to exercise their independence. It is hard for them not to go into a store as usual and buy the things they want. It makes them feel like they are not independent anymore. My coworkers and I talk them through this challenge. We explain that they are not losing their freedoms, but we all have to do our best to protect others and ourselves. It is also hard for the people I support to not see their families or friends. One gentleman I support usually takes rides with a manager from another home. Now, he can only talk to him on the phone and he constantly says, “I miss you terrible”. Another person I support who is close with his mom can’t go home to be with her. Throughout the day he carries his phone around pretending to talk to his mom because he misses her so much. This is hard to see. All we can do is remind them that we are there for them, they can talk to us about anything they are feeling, vent to us, and that we are always there to help them.
Life at the home where I work has changed a lot. Normally, no one would be home during the day. Home is the day program now! Music has become a big part of the time we spend together; it is therapeutic. The Fun Spot is usually a big thing in their life. Every Tuesday they go and have a dance off. So, we turned the house into the Fun Spot. At least once a week we have a dance party. Everyone loves Fleetwood Mac.
During this uncertain time, I feel so proud of our organization as a whole. I see so many people just being there for others. We’re all sticking it out together. This is who we are and what we are here to do. It’s nice to have so many people who are here for me. Everywhere you look there is a supportive person. I love AIM. I have never seen anything but good over the 2 years I have been here. I applied to AIM because I heard about it through the grapevine. My uncle, who passed on last year, had several medical conditions. It always made me feel good to help him. That was the only experience I had, but I wanted to try something different. I never felt accomplished until this job. I am now a DSP because I love what I do. I love helping others feel like they are something and they can accomplish anything. It warms my heart to see people do what they want. Simple things, from never listening to music to listening all the time, or never getting in a car, to loving the rides we take together. I have no problem putting myself at risk every day, because life is about everyone. What would these people do without DSPs? It is my purpose to be here for these people and to help them through their lives.
DSPs need your support NOW. Donations on Giving Tuesday Now will provide financial support to the Direct Support Professionals most in need, as part of our Annual Fund 2020 Keep Their Dreams Alive.