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Elsie: A Calling to Help

When she came to work for Easterseals Arc, Elsie Davis already could draw on a deep well of experience in caring for people.

DSP Elsie Davis

Elsie Davis

She had worked for nursing homes as a certified nursing assistant for 20 years. Now she sees common threads between her work in nursing homes and her role as a direct support professional in supported living for Easterseals Arc. “You gotta be able to have a heart for the people,” she said.

Wanting to try something different from the nursing homes, she worked for another agency as a DSP for about six months, then came to Easterseals Arc in November 2015.

“I realized this was another of my callings, so I came to (Easterseals) Arc. I always wanted to do something to help people,” she said.

Elsie watches participants at a cooking class

Elsie Davis, right, and Karen, back, watch as Cindy pours honey into a smoothie she is making in a cooking class. Class instructor Kelley Marvin, left, steadies the blender.

Most of her work since then has been with two consumers, roommates Karen, 55, and Cindy, 66. In nearly three years of working with them, she’s formed strong bonds with not only Karen and Cindy, but also with many of their neighbors in their apartment complex.

 “I’m friends with everybody. They call me Grandma,” said Davis.

She’s enjoyed getting to know Karen and Cindy and finding ways to cater to their much different interests and dispositions.

Karen gets out more, Davis explained, so they arrange many small outings, from necessities like grocery shopping to leisure outings, such as finding garage sales. Cindy prefers quiet time at home, where she enjoys crocheting. After Cindy’s longtime pet died recently, she found something that definitely was worth an outing: adopting a new cat.

Davis found more of a challenge in Karen, who herself faced an immense challenge. Shortly before Davis began working with the roommates, Karen lost her mother. She had lived with her mother for more than 50 years, and her mother had done everything for her, even making her bed. Karen had to tackle both her grief and the shock of being more independent at the same time.

“I’ve grown a lot in that job,” Davis said. “We came into something new. I had to figure her out, and she had to figure me out.” 

Davis has done a lot to help Karen navigate her unfamiliar independence. Karen now makes her own bed, does her own laundry and many other tasks her mother did for decades.

After three years, Davis has no regrets about changing her line of work and coming to Easterseals Arc.

“I like the set-up. Everybody I’ve come in contact with is friendly. I’d just say they’re straight-up people. I like it when the supervisors care about the clients,” she said.

“I don’t need an alarm clock to get me up. It’s because I like what I do,” she said.

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