During the month of September, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are being honored nationwide, and we want to join the chorus – loudly – in singing their praises. However, it seems odd to single out a limited period of time to recognize this hardworking group of professionals when in fact their work goes on every single hour of every single day. (Read article in Keene Sentinel).

Direct support professionals (DSPs) enable our most vulnerable citizens to live self-directed lives with dignity and pride. They are unsung heroes who help people with disabilities realize their dreams and enjoy the daily liberties and human rights that the rest of us take for granted.

As the Executive Director of Monadnock Developmental Services, the area agency that provides services to people with developmental and related disabilities in the 34 towns of the Monadnock region, I have watched DSPs and providers dedicate countless hours, days, weeks, months and years to their profession. Our mission is to foster inclusion, participation and mutual relationships for those most at risk of isolation from community. We work with a number of partner agencies, but it is the DSPs who are on the front line every day, in many cases 24/7, supporting people with disabilities, chronic illness, and acquired brain disorders. The work of DSPs is essential (and lifelong) to ensure that people who rely on supports can live healthy, safe and meaningful lives as contributing members of their communities.

At one point in our lives, we will all either receive care or act as caregivers, and the demand for these services is increasing each year. DSPs make sure that there a system – and a helping hand and kind face – in place to help us as we face these challenging situations.

Take a few minutes in the coming week to think about the critical impact each and every DSP has on the life of an individual. Because of their work, people with disabilities are able to attend church, have jobs, get to doctors’ appointments, belong to sports teams, participate in civic and social events, and volunteer for the community – which makes our communities more inclusive and vibrant. Because of their work, when it’s our turn, there will be someone there to help.

Let’s not forget to take a minute to thank a DSP, not just in September, but all year long, for the challenging work they are doing.

Alan Greene, Executive Director

This article appeared in the Keene Sentinel on Monday, September 27, 2010.