Celebrating Those Who Provide Care
September 12, 2016
Posted By: Paige Mador
Happy Direct Support Professionals Week! The following was submitted by a member of Venture’s management staff in honor of our many direct care staff members who fulfill our mission every day:
What is compassion, and do we innately possess this most altruistic of characteristics? Sympathy is our ability to identify and feel sorry for another’s misfortune. Empathy occurs when we understand and share that person’s feeling. Compassion is not only identifying with another’s misfortune but also acting on it to alleviate it. Compassion is a learned attribute that involves overcoming social awkwardness, fear, and the unknown. Yes, we are most likely equipped intrinsically with a sensitivity chip that allows us the ability for compassion –unfortunately, few of us act upon it. What makes some of us more inclined to reach out and lend a hand when needed, often at times to a complete stranger? Helping a friend or family member is certainly easier and almost expected due to connection and relationship, but a stranger or someone we share little or no connection with at all? The fear of consequence, of doing something wrong, of ridicule, or potential liability gnaws at us. Genuine compassion takes courage and an irresistible draw to help regardless of consequence. Nowhere have I seen the evidence of this more frequently than in those who work as caregivers in our field. Caring for another is a difficult job – one that many cannot do. I am always amazed at the perseverance that exists during times when life and job become overwhelming and stressful for our staff – they are the direct support professionals that give of themselves every day. Many have placed the needs of those we serve above their own. I asked one day after observing a quiet moment between one of our staff and a gentleman we serve, “What makes you respond the way you do to his needs? He doesn’t speak yet you seem to understand him.” The staff member told me he left his family in Kenya about five years prior. It was the most difficult decision he ever made. “In my culture,” he said, “the family unit is strong, and we are taught from a young age that it is our duty to care for our elders.” He nodded toward the gentleman who sat quietly rocking, listening. “It’s our responsibility to see he’s cared for.”
Compassion flows from the core of human caring. Our collective human experience binds us together regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. American-Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön believes compassion to be an aggregate equalizer: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals…”
Those who provide the care are the leaders of our organization. They are truly the ones who represent Venture’s core values through their work every day.
I am humbled by our agency’s direct support professionals, or whatever title is used to describe their work throughout the field. Any description of their position will surely pale in comparison to the job they do. No words do justice or measure the impact they have on the lives in our care. On behalf of everyone at Venture, I’d like to thank every direct support professional for their commitment. The care we provide wouldn’t be possible without your dedication and compassion.
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