Ron Wakefield and DBHDD, honoring Direct Support Professionals across the state and highlighting one of Unisons own:
Debbie Denson- Direct Support Professional at Unison Behavioral Health
Debbie Denson
Unison Behavioral Health
28 years in the field
Explain what drew you to enter the field of helping individuals with I/DD?
To be honest, I knew very little about developmental disabilities at the time that I was hired. I answered an ad in the paper for Supportive Employment. The job description was to help individuals with disabilities to have access to employment in the community. The goal was for each person to become independent and have the same opportunities as everyone else. I will never forget the first individual that I worked with and the moment he received his first check. Once I saw the excitement and the pride this individual had, I knew then I wanted to become more involved with individuals with developmental disabilities.
Describe a memorable experience with a person you are serving?
Over the years there have been many memorable moments of emotions and experiences. It’s hard to pick one. I will always remember and still get to experience the excitement of a gentleman that has been with me for 25 years. The first Christmas parade that he went to was 24 years ago. He had such an abundance of energy, waving and yelling at the emergency vehicles to the extent that he drowned out the sirens with his excitement! When it came time for Santa, I had to hold him by his belt loop to keep him from running after the fire truck. This same gentleman continues to show just as much excitement today at all the outings that I get to share with him.
As being a DSP is both rewarding and challenging, describe one thing that you do for yourself (i.e., self-care) to help avoid burnout and stress?
I enjoy camping and getting away on the weekends as much as possible. I love the North Georgia Mountains with the cooler weather and seeing all that nature has to offer. Then there’s my addiction to online shopping for my family.
List one thing you have learned from working during the pandemic may be helpful for others to know.
In working with our group home individuals and facing COVID in both homes, it was the most stressful time that I have experienced. My advice is to take time to breath and not let the pandemic take away the love and joy that you have for the job and individuals in your care. Remember that you don’t have to handle everything alone, ask for help. Talk to your supervisor, to let them know that you may need a few minutes or a day to regroup.

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