It’s a difficult time to be a DSP but Licking Valley senior Danyelle Stamper has found her calling.
Danyelle Stamper’s senior year of high school hasn’t gone as planned.
She was planning on spending time completing her classwork alongside her friends at Licking Valley High School in preparation for graduation.
She’s still attending school virtually — like most students now — as Ohio’s “stay home order” continues into the month of May.
But mostly she’s been working as a direct support professional, since her part-time job at Center for Disability Services (CDS) has become full-time.
“I am sad about graduation and the fact that I (probably) won’t be able to walk across that stage, but I try to look at the positive in everything,” she said. “(This pandemic) can’t take away your accomplishments and who you are. I’m working with all these great people while this pandemic is going on. That is an accomplishment and it makes up for what I am losing.”
Danyelle has only been a direct support professional, or DSP, for the past three months, but supporting people with disabilities comes naturally to her.
Her sister Harmony, who is 16, has a disability and Danyelle said spending time with her has always been a huge part of her life.
“I help her do schoolwork and some activities around the house,” she said. “I really like being that person she looks up to the most. I try to set a good example for her.”
Danyelle said she’s also spent time helping out in the multiple handicap room at school and supporting family members. But she had never considered that she could have a career as a DSP.
That changed last year when Danyelle attended a job fair at Licking Valley and approached the table for the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
After talking with Brandi Body — who works for LCBDD as a DSP Eligibility Specialist — Danyelle realized she wanted to jump into a new job as a direct support professional.
But, she had to wait until she turned 18.
She kept in touch with Brandi and as her birthday got closer, she was able to complete the necessary eligibility screenings.
“I knew this was a really good opportunity, it could really get me out there,” she said. “I’m a shy person, so getting out there is a big step for me and when I turned 18 I really wanted to take that step.”
When looking at agencies to apply to, CDS stood out as the best fit, Danyelle said.
“I guess the way Brandi put it is that they are a family rather than coworkers and that was a call to me because, if you aren’t willing to work together as a team and as a family, it makes it harder,” she said. “When I got to CDS, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is amazing! People were just giving you a hand.”
“She’s a sweetheart,” Danyelle said. “Being able to do those things with her has opened a whole portal to seeing different things like I’ve never seen them before.”
Danyelle doesn’t hesitate to talk about her future plans. Once she finishes high school, she is planning to get med certified and work to move up in her company.
For her, being a DSP is a calling.
“You have to be fully dedicated and you have to manage your emotional boundaries,” she said. “There have been times where I’ve had stuff going on in my life and working with my individual makes my day.”
Danyelle has been working hard to keep up with her school work so she can continue to work five days a week. She feels confident that CDS is taking every precaution they can to protect DSPs during the pandemic.
It is important to her to be a consistent presence so the woman she supports remains calm and comfortable.
“It’s definitely made me see… these (people) really need us,” she said. “This is an eye opener that you are meant to be where you are.”
For more information about how to become a DSP, go to DSPcareers.com.