Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week is September 13-19, 2020. Now more than ever, DSPs everywhere deserve our full support and appreciation for the life-saving work they do every day. It is our privilege to celebrate the work they do to help people with disabilities make the most of their rights and opportunities:

Kent Joseph studied to be an accountant. “I like numbers; it wasn’t hard,” he says. “I got to deal with people and help them with their finances.”

What he didn’t like was working in an office. “Sitting behind the desk for eight hours or more a day, I don’t think I can do that,” says Kent, now a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at AHRC New York City’s Vyse Avenue residence in the Bronx.

I never imagined I’d be in this field,” Kent says. He came to Vyse Avenue more than a year ago, having spent the previous five years in the field.

Connecting with Challenging Individuals

Kent has a knack for connecting with residents with more challenging behaviors. “It gives me a sense of fulfillment to help the people we support lead better lives,” he says

Alecia Sturge, Coordinator of the Bronx Region for Residential Services, describes Kent as “one of the most positive and patient human beings.” Even when he works with the most challenging individuals, she added, “he still will tell you that he loves his job.”

Maybe God blessed me with patience,” Kent says, adding that patience is important for anyone looking to become a DSP.

Marcel Abney is among the eight residents who benefit from Kent’s calm demeanor. Marcel enjoys walking in the community, especially to a nearby park. He also likes it when Kent and he walk to the store to purchase snacks.

Kent has a way of figuring people out–it comes naturally to him. He knows that Marcel loves movies and one day he’ll say his name is Denzel Washington. Kent knows Marcell will go by another name the next day.

‘I Never Called Out’ Amid Pandemic

Working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was frightening for Kent and his colleagues.

I never called out,” Kent says. “I felt like the agency and the people we support were depending on me.”

While Kent’s wife was worried about him working in the home, she understood he had to go to work. “I was part of the essential workforce,” Kent says.

Supporting people with disabilities and helping them lead better lives is fulfilling work, Kent says. “You’re around them. You talk to them and find out more about them — what they love and what they don’t like. I don’t want them to have a bad day. So I’m going to help them out and enjoy the community. I try to help them lead a normal life like anyone else does.”