September 13th marks the beginning of the nationwide, week long, celebration of direct support professionals. Direct Support Professionals Week, or DSP Week, allows AIM Services and other organizations offering similar support, to focus on the significant contributions of this essential workforce. The annual observance could not be more deserving at a time where we are witnessing the unceasing dedication of direct support professionals throughout a health crisis. The past several months have highlighted the depth of compassion and sacrifice these remarkable people have shown to one of the most vulnerable populations in our world. One week is truly not enough, and AIM Services’ intends to honor DSPs all additional 51 weeks of the year. One would be hard pressed to find a person who would argue the truth of this statement.
The COVID 19 pandemic has not so much redefined, but rather further solidified, our thoughts on the value of Direct Support Professionals. As New York State shut down in early March of 2020, DSPs continued to show up to work every single day. All the while, they have adapted to new rules, protocols, and systems of supporting the people for whom they care. Without end, they place the needs and the safety of those they serve before their own. They cannot stay home because they are essential.
As of late, many are compelled to reevaluate the meaning of essential. When you reflect upon this word, of whom do you think? Deservedly so, doctors and nurses are most likely to come to mind. After all, these are the people that are unmistakably fighting for others’ lives at the risk and threat of their own. What also needs to come to mind are the 110,000 direct support professionals throughout New York State, and the 4.5 million direct support professionals in the United States who, on a daily basis, devotedly arrive at the doorsteps of the people they support. For Direct Support Professionals, that door never closes; they never went home. The DSPs at AIM Services answer the call for the continuation of support so effectively, that the health of the thousands of people supported by the organization has remained uncompromised. DSPs, too, fight for others’ lives.
One definition of the word essential in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is to be of the utmost importance. Another is something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable. To a human services organization supporting people with disabilities, this definition speaks volumes. AIM cannot stand without DSPs. Every DSP ought to feel the depth of their community’s admiration for all of their accomplishments and sacrifices in their essential roles. From every corner of New York, to each locality in this nation, THANK YOU to our ESSENTIAL DSPS.
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