With more than 19 percent of adults in Maryland living with a disability, organizations like The Arc Central Chesapeake Region are always looking for future employees who have the knowledge of the community and an eagerness to work in a rewarding career.
Val Prochaska, 54, is a direct support professional (DSP) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in the Eastern Shore. For the last 4 months, he’s worked for The Arc—a nonprofit that creates opportunities, facilitates services and advocates for people with I/DD. As a DSP for the organization’s Workforce Development program, Prochaska’s goal is to not only help the people he supports to be fully included in the community where they work, but also where they live.
For example, Prochaska helped William Holloway, a young man who he supports, move quickly through his initial training at Starbucks. William quickly advanced from customer support to the drive-thru register, and now he’s working on becoming a full-fledged barista, making one of the hundreds of Starbucks coffee drinks. William’s goal is to move on from one of The Arc’s group homes and live independently, and thanks to the skills he’s picked up with Arc support, he’s one step closer to reaching that goal.
“It’s a joy seeing a person with a disability learn to work and live in the community independently and being part of that process is so rewarding,” said Prochaska.
Prochaska’s role is instrumental in helping the people he supports master the skills they need for their job. He finds his job far more challenging than he imagined and wished he had discovered this career opportunity 10 years ago.
Like most careers, becoming a DSP entails receiving high-quality, intensive training that prepares and qualifies them for challenging work. There are different levels of professional development that provide the knowledge, skills and values comprehension for the profession.
Becoming a DSP can be ideal for a person interested in a rewarding career helping those people with disabilities live and work in the community. The work hours are flexible with opportunities to work part time or full time, and with schedules that range from morning, evening or weekends. For more information about the profession please visit www.www.thearcccr.org/careers.