DSP of the Month: Kellee Avery

Congratulations to Kellee Avery, December’s Direct Support Professional (DSP) of the Month!

Kellee has worked as a DSP for Safe Haven Home Healthcare for over 10 years.

“I began my career as a DSP in 2013 upon meeting my current client who was assigned to a previous DSP who worked for Safe Haven,” Kellee said. The DSP was in the process of changing employment and asked since I knew Matthew if I would be interested in taking over his role. I hadn’t considered it before but readily said yes. I contacted Safe Haven and met with the managing director at that time, filled out the initial paperwork, covered the policy and procedures, and completed the necessary background checks. In addition, I met with Matthew’s parents and adult siblings to learn more about him as a person, and what their expectations were with me as his new DSP. I also asked what things Matthew enjoyed doing throughout the day, what forms of communication worked best with him since he is non-verbal, important things that I needed to be mindful of, and how or what I could do to continue in the role of ensuring all my his goals were being met on his ISP.”

A man and a women indoors sitting in a chair in front of a Christmas tree.

Tisha Cooley, an employee that works at Safe Haven with Kellee, says watching Kellee take care of Matthew over the past 10 years has been truly inspirational.

“Kellee is a kind and caring DSP,” Tisha said. “She revolves her life around her client of over 10 years, Matthew. If you see Kellee, chances are you are going to see Mathew right behind her. She has dubbed him ‘My Baby,’ and the enormous smile that appears on his face when she calls him this, will undoubtedly melt your heart. Matthew has Down Syndrome, and is nonverbal, but Kellee has learned all of his ques, and his other various forms of communication. She has learned all of Matthew’s favorite places to go, food to eat, and things to do, all without saying a word. Together, Kellee and Mathew have proven that the language of love, respect, and kindness speaks far louder than any voice.”

Kellee says she couldn’t have asked for a better blessing when it comes to Matthew because he has not only changed her as an individual for the better, but has helped motivate and enrich Matthew’s life physically, mentally, and or emotionally.

A women hugging a man indoors

Tisha couldn’t celebrate Kellee’s relationship with Matthew enough saying she takes care of him like he is her own, even through the passing of his mother.

“She makes sure he gets out into the community every day and you can just tell the love that they have for each other,” Tisha said. “She works 7 days a week and barely takes any time for herself because of the love and care she has for Matthew. She is part of the family, and they too are greatly appreciated for all that she does. She goes above and beyond for Matthew and that is not easy to find, especially now. Our agency is truly grateful that she came to us when she did, and we were able to match her with the perfect person for them both. We are so blessed. She makes sure Matthew is properly dressed every day, eats well, is active every day, and most importantly he is loved. She is just super awesome and there is no one else at our agency that is like her. I wish we had 100 of her to go around!”

Kellee expressed that her favorite part of her job is the one-on-one personal time with Matthew because she gets to witness the small milestones, they’ve worked on over the past 10 years.

“I love it when Matt hurries and grabs his favorite things when I come to pick him up and he’s walking out the door before I get a chance to tell his family members goodbye,” Kellee said. “That’s my cue he’s excited and ready to see what our day brings! He’s accomplished small and large motor skills such as dressing himself, pointing to objects of interest to him without me having to guess, identifying person, place, or things with use of a picture album, understanding the use of body language when something hurts or doesn’t feel good, following instructions using memory inhibitors such as right shoe from left shoe, a ball cap from a stocking cap, proper cleaning etiquette like washing our hands before and after eating, brushing our teeth and rinsing afterwards, and putting away toys and dishes.”

Over the years Kellee says she has really focused on helping Matthew and his family in providing care and companionship, daily activities, transportation to events and medical services, and community organizations, which she says has helped him grow and promote a positive impact in his life.

“Being passionate about Matthew’s growth helps take a load off the family because they know that their loved one has been entrusted in good hands for his care. With older parents and working siblings, Matthew wouldn’t have been able to participate in a lot of activities as well as sporting events that we now are able to attend on a regular basis. I have a pool in the backyard which his family doesn’t so Matthew looks forward to when I open the pool! He runs out and jumps in and will spend hours playing in the water. He just loves water and our trips every summer to Kings Island where we spend hours out at the waterpark until we’re both exhausted. He’s always expressing his gratitude and bond we share with big bear hugs and the goodbye handshakes upon drop off.”

Kellee herself has experienced the ways a DSP can impact and change the life of the individual they are serving and their family as her daughter was born with a developmental disability 22 years ago.

“My daughter required many of the services that I now provide for my individuals,” Kellee explained. Without those important resources, I wouldn’t have been able to function adequately or as efficiently as a parent in my child’s growth, learning, and physical and emotional needs as it related to her need of occupational and physical therapy in the home, numerous medical appointments, the cost of medical supplies and equipment, school modifications needed as well as making sure my own physical and mental emotional needs were in a good place.”

A man and a woman outdoors standing on a balcony.

Kellee says that those looking for a career should consider being a DSP because it is so rewarding and inspiring knowing that you are making a major contribution in someone’s life who not only needs it but will give back to you wholeheartedly in the smallest of ways!

Do you know an amazing DSP who deserves to be recognized for everything they do? Nominate them below! Nominations for January’s DSP of the Month are due by Friday, January 5.

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