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Direct Support Career Yields Ocean of Opportunities

(HARRISBURG, PA 9/14/09) How many jobs in corporate America would actually condone a quick trip to the beach?

One that's extremely important, according to Josh Dauberman of Keystone Human Services (KHS).

“The work I do is literally life-altering,” comments Dauberman who works as a Direct Support Professional (DSP), providing daily assistance for three men with intellectual disabilities.

“The guys I support are like family to me. We eat meals together … We play pool together … and yes, we even dream of going to the beach together.”

At Keystone, DSPs learn that individuals with disabilities want what most people want … an “everyday life.” With the proper training, skilled DSPs like Josh are prepared to make that happen. Based upon each individual's input, they help to establish goals, develop abilities and within practical limits, encourage dreams.

On a daily basis, that dream might include leading a productive life in a well-appointed home like the one Josh serves in Northumberland County. With a team of Keystone DSPs providing 'round-the-clock personalized support, Joe K., John Y. and Lonnie K. enjoy life as a typical family.

Lonnie's proud of the vegetables he harvests from his garden, including his towering 8 ft. tall tomato plants. John works at a bakery part-time and has a passion for Harleys. Joe volunteers at an animal shelter … but above all, has always secretly yearned to see the ocean.

Comments Josh, “Glimpsing the shoreline might not seem like that big a deal for many Pennsylvanians … but for Bob, it's all he's ever wanted.”

Unfortunately, for generations, countless men, women and children with intellectual disabilities weren't allowed to “want” anything.

Deprived of any notion of choice until the latter part of the 20th century, millions of Americans were resigned to life in institutions; separated from family, ostracized by society, and deprived of any basic right to dream. And that included beaches.

Comments Jennifer Alison, Keystone's Senior VP of Human Resources, “Joe was fortunate to have been spent his early years with a supportive family. Lonnie, on the other hand, was not so lucky. Historically, opportunities and choice were not familiar concepts for people with disabilities. Yet, the simplest experiences we take for granted are the very things that excite the individuals we serve.”

According to Allison, “Something as mundane as opening a can of tuna and making your own sandwich can be a huge celebration for an individual with significant challenges.”

… So you can only imagine Joe's response upon learning he was finally going to set eyes on the ocean.

“I told him that with Keystone's help, we could make it happen,” continues Josh. “And we did. Without exaggerating, supporting Joe's trip to the beach was the most profound thing I've ever done. To witness the expression on his face as he danced in the waves with the ocean spray in his face is something I'll remember the rest of my life.”

Evidently, so will Joe. He keeps an album of photos by his bedside; a vivid and well-worn reminder of having lived a long-held dream. He's also incidentally become a huge fan of crab cakes.

Josh sums it up, “At Keystone, all dreams are honored … including mine. I've had other jobs. I've explored other opportunities. But being a DSP is my passion. It's my life. I see myself staying at Keystone forever.”

Widely known for “advancing the human spirit” while supporting children and adults with autism, intellectual disabilities, those experiencing mental illness, and children and families living below the poverty line, Keystone welcomes donations as well as employment and service inquiries at www.keystonehumanservices.org or (717) 232-7509, ext. 133.

In operation since 1972, Keystone currently provides dignified support services in over 30 counties in Pennsylvania, as well as large areas of Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland. In addition, Keystone Human Services International serves vulnerable children and families in Moldova, Russia and Azerbaijan.

For a listing of career opportunities and to apply on line visit our web site at www.keystonehumanservices.org.

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