Family led Passion Young to Easterseals Arc, and after nine years as a direct support professional here, family constitutes a big part of her work, too.
Her first step into Easterseals Arc came on the recommendation of her older sister, now a behavioral consultant working in Fort Wayne.
“She would always tell me, ‘You’d be good at this. You have a great heart,’ ” Young remembers.
Young took her sister’s advice. Besides having a great heart for the work of helping people with disabilities, she had a very personal reason to get involved. Her brother, Ka’Mari, now 16, has Down syndrome. She thought that working with other people with disabilities might enable her to help her little brother.
Indeed it has helped her brother, and working for Easterseals Arc has helped in a more direct way than she might have imagined. Young now works with just two Easterseals Arc consumers: her brother and Darrin, a man who lives alone but needs help with transportation and some other daily activities.
With Darrin, she drives him to and from his work at an Arby’s restaurant, where he keeps the public areas of the restaurant clean and neat. At his home, she sees her main role as helping him stay organized and improve his housekeeping.
She’s also found creative ways to improve the lives of the people she works with. A recent example: Darrin decided he wanted to find himself a pop machine that would dispense cans, one that he could keep in his apartment.
Young helped him plan a budget for saving money for the machine. She brainstormed ways for him to seek such a pop machine. And she found ways to merge this quest with broader goals for improving Darrin’s life, such as encouraging him to be active. Part their search for a pop machine involved walking neighborhood garage sales.
Helping him manage his life involves a steady flow of gentle suggestions from Young.
“It’s more like providing tips,” she said. “I might say, ‘Here’s a tip. This is how I clean my stove at home,’ and I show him how I clean the edges of the stove.”
With her brother Ka’Mari, she works on more fronts at once. Much of the work she does involves encouraging him to be physically active by playing basketball, walking, swimming, even singing and dancing. At the same time, she helps him learn and improve his reading, his command of phonics and his math skills – as well as his understanding of diet and exercise and how they affect his health.
There’s much she likes about working for Easterseals Arc – benefits, the wellness program, the schedule flexibility that helps her devote time to her two sons, ages 3 and 6. But the real payoff remains the people. That’s why she was drawn to being a DSP, and it’s why she’s still at after nine years on the job.
“I like the interaction. I love helping people, even if I can just put a smile on your face or make you laugh,” she said.