Good coverage from the Belleville News Democrat.
BY CASEY BISCHEL email@example.com
One of the greatest accomplishments of Patti Vardiman’s career working with developmentally disabled adults came unexpectedly one day.
She was working with the learning series “Hooked on Phonics” when a middle-aged woman in her class caught her attention.
“I just put (in the CD) just to try it out to see if anybody would respond — and she’s unable to move her hands — and she was sitting at the table moaning.”
“She was actually following the CD and reading along with the CD and the book. It was time to turn the page, and she was unable to do that.”
Vardiman said she was fascinated to learn more about her client, who had just turned 50. Varidman found out that she could read the text to her and so long as the questions were in a yes-or-no format, her client could answer them.
“We do so many things,” Vardiman said of her work as a direct support professional, or DSP, at Community Link, the Breese-based organization with offices across the metro-east.
“We’re interpreters,” she said, adding later, “We’re housekeepers. We’re (certified nursing assistants). I can’t stress enough to people that this is not a minimum wage job, and in order to get the staff that we need, we have to make (the job) more attractive and offer them more money.”
Vardiman spoke at a press conference in Belleville on Tuesday on behalf of many metro-east direct support professionals at 16 organizations, as well as the people they work for, to draw attention to what John Huelskamp, the executive director of Community Link, described as a “growing crisis … that threatens the core of the entire system of support” in community-based centers.
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