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Did you know that there’s a group of Adelante employees, our direct support professionals, who have helped 80,000 people across New Mexico? In light of this, you’re probably thinking: “Only superheroes could help that many people!” And you’re right!

This week, September 13-19, is National Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week. Every September, nonprofit agencies around the country celebrate employees who work directly with people with disabilities. At Adelante, we celebrate all of the people who directly impact the lives of our clients including people with disabilities, seniors, and people with disadvantages across New Mexico.

Like superheroes, many of these mild-mannered people work quietly in plain sight. Work that makes a tremendous difference in people’s lives. These humble and kind people go to great lengths to make our world a better place for all, especially the people in their care.

A woman, one of Adelante's direct support professionals, pushes a man in a wheelchair outside. Another client, a woman, follows.
Taking clients on educational and cultural outings is one way Adelante’s direct support professionals help people live great lives. (This photo was taken before the pandemic, which is why there are no masks.)

What is a DSP?

Firstly, direct support professionals got their name because they work directly with people with disabilities or seniors. They help their clients access the community and live better lives. For example, DSPs help people with disabilities develop life skills like cooking, budgeting, shopping, working, and learning. But Adelante’s mission expands far beyond disability services. We work with seniors and people with disadvantages, too. At Adelante, our team members that work with these groups are just as important to our mission. Many of us may see Adelante’s DSPs hard at work in the community, but don’t know just how big that impact really is. Tens of thousands of people to be exact. Adelante celebrates EVERYONE who directly supports our clients! 

DSPs Adjust During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This year has been especially tough on caregivers like Adelante’s DSPs because of COVID. Our employees have really stepped up to the plate. Our day program staff have been providing services in our Community Living homes during the day, to enrich the lives of people with disabilities. That has meant smaller environments, almost no outings in the community per the health orders, and longer commutes for many. Everyone working in the homes has been very diligent in cleaning and wearing protective gear to keep clients safe. They have also mastered Zoom and/or Google Meet so clients can visit with their families, case managers, and therapists, as well as participate in tele-health sessions.

Other Adelante areas have adjusted too, to manage and help others during the pandemic. Adelante Senior Meals in Dona Ana County provides meals at 6 senior center sites. Instead of the usual sit-down meals, they are packing everything to go and seniors are picking up food.

Some programs have remained largely the same, but with the addition of masks and social distancing. Adelante EmployAbility, our supported employment program, has continued to support people in their jobs across town. Our Contact Center reps continue to support people in applying for government benefits and improving health through the Wellness Referral Center. However they are improving lives, we value the work of the DSPs who have been there for people when they were needed the most. We are undeniably grateful for all they do!

All of Adelante’s DSPs got goody bags stuffed with local favorites and a some new Adelante gear to say we are glad you’re part of our team. And, since they are like heroes, we made this video to honor them. Check it out!

(Every year, we choose a theme for DSP week. This year’s theme is superheroes, and so we made a movie trailer)

Our DSPs make an enormous impact for people all across New Mexico. They are our superheroes. If you see a DSP doing great work out in the community, please take time to thank them! Happy Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week!