Sept. 9, 2019 – This week, and every day of the year, alongside Florida’s Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, we wish to acknowledge and thank the hardworking team of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) at Duvall Homes. DSPs work 24/7 caring for the personal needs of each individual we serve with developmental disabilities.
Today, with 16 group homes throughout Volusia County, including a newly constructed group home in West Volusia, Duvall’s dedicated supportive care team has been committed to providing the most comfortable and safe residential services, community engagement and much more, for people with special needs since 1945 – almost 75 years ago!
July 4, 2019 – On this Independence Day, we wish to thank the hard-working support staff of Duvall Homes who work around the clock – 24/7 through every holiday – empowering independence to people with developmental disabilities in our care.
We also wish to thank MBI Direct Mail, Duvall’s Vocational Workshop Partner, for their donation of special utility bags to our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Day Training Support Specialists. Each bag had letters of appreciation from Duvall’s CEO, Steven DeVane, with ice cream vouchers from Pat and Toni’s Sweet Things tucked inside.
On their way to pick up residents from our Opportunities Enrichment Center, new DSP hire, Arrayma (top left), and Group Home Manager, Sherrie (top right), sported their smashing bags packed with essential work gear. Sherrie was instrumental in providing feedback on the features of the bag prior to its fabrication, which was initiated by Scott Robertson, MBI’s Director of Partnership Development. Robertson joined Duvall’s Board of Regents this past year.
Additional bags were given to team members from Duvall’s Administration, Facilities and Grounds departments. #IndependenceDay #ImInspired #TheDuvallDifference
September 19, 2018 – “A rock star – that’s how I feel. What job can you go to every day and feel like you’re a rock star on stage?” Those are the words Larry Hopper from DeLand said at his retirement party last Friday after working 25 years for Duvall Homes.
Originally from New York, Hopper first came to work for Duvall as a Resident Assistant in 1990. The personal caregiver position is now referred to as Direct Support Professional (DSP). DSPs provide non-medical care and services to people with special needs in their home and in the community. After working at Duvall for a respectable 11 years, Hopper left in 2001 to run a small engraving and decal business. Three years later, facing the typical stresses that come with owning a business, he decided to return to the job that gave him the most satisfaction. Hopper worked 14 more years for Duvall.
“The moment you walk in the door, residents cheer your name out loud. You feel like a rock star!” said Hopper with his large, infectious smile. “And they notice every single detail about you. ‘I like your shirt Larry. Did you get a haircut?’ Where else do you get that kind of daily welcome?”
Larry is going to be missed by many – by the Duvall residents for sure, but also by fellow DSPs and Group Home Managers. He’s part of a shrinking workforce, and an aging generation that didn’t think twice about taking on a challenging job to benefit someone else in the community.
“The DSPs at Duvall are our front line. We depend on them to provide the very best care for our residents, as well as keep our group homes clean, organized and safe,” said Sherrie Moore, Group Home Manager. Moore is one of seven supervisors who help manage Duvall’s 15 group homes and 62 DSPs. Maintaining residential care plans for close to 100 residents makes the DSP position an integral role in Duvall’s Support Team. DSPs ensure the health and welfare of the residents are priority one. “They help to keep the whole team on the same page with respect to the record keeping and progress of each individual,” added Moore.
“Larry is only one of several DSPs who have worked at Duvall for more than 20 years,” said CEO Steven DeVane. “DSP Phyllis Griffith, who retired not too long ago, dedicated more than 30 years of her life to Duvall. It can be a challenge to find younger folks to make that same commitment the way past generations did. This has become a crisis not just for Duvall Homes, but for providers like us across the state of Florida, and the nation.”
DeVane has worked continuously with state legislators for the past two years to temporarily modify hiring mandates because age, experience and other criteria practically stifled all hiring. Things are looking much brighter now because of his advocacy.
DeVane and his executive staff know full well that the probability of a new hire remaining with Duvall for 25 years, like Larry, is pretty low. What they can promise is that young hires, who make even a short-term commitment to work for Duvall, will receive valuable training and priceless experience that develops the life skills of critical thinking, effective communication and self-awareness,
“New hires at Duvall Homes develop skills that may not be developed in other jobs,” said Christina Negri, Duvall Homes’ Director of Human Resources. “Being a DSP for a minimum of one-to-two years can be a fantastic stepping stone; it can lead to work in other healthcare or customer-service related fields.”
The qualifications for, and benefits of, being a Direct Support Professional are being messaged on various hiring platforms to reach high school grads, age 21 and over, who are looking for work or looking to change their career. But, digital and print ads, social media posts and career fairs are not enough. Duvall Homes depends on parents, grandparents, teachers, guidance counsellors and other community mentors to instill the life-long value in making a short-term commitment to care for people with developmental disabilities. This way we can all be a part of retaining a crucial workforce for a population that depends on it.
Duvall Homes continues to accept applications for Direct Support Professionals and other support specialist positions for their Opportunities Enrichment Day Training Center. For more information, visit DuvallHomes.org/Careers or contact Christina Negri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386.734.2874 x127.
“I’m proud of the work I do. If I could share with others one thing, it would be not to underestimate what those in our care are capable of doing… much more than you think.” – DSP Sanjuana (left), a Duvall Employee for 12 years, with Lyle.
September 10, 2018 – A Huge Thank You: This week is Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week. Fellow staff, residents and families value the vital contributions DSPs make to the Duvall Support Team and to our community.
“Our DSPs are simply awesome,” said Duvall Group Home Manager Christine E. “We depend on them to keep our group homes organized and running smoothly so that our residents are comfortable and safe every single day.”
DSPs and other specialists are instrumental Duvall Support Team members in empowering those in our care. They each are trained experts who deliver programming and services focused on developing personal life skills that strengthen independence and self-pride for those with special needs.
We are most fortunate to have such caring, selfless employees, like Sanjuana pictured here, who has cared for individuals like Lyle for close to 12 years.
“I’m proud of the work I do,” said Sanjuana. “If I could share with others one thing, it would be not to underestimate what those in our care are capable of doing… Much more than you think.” Thank you Sanjuana! And to our all of our DSPs.
July 2, 2018 – Duvall Homes has provided residential supportive care and day training services that empowers people who live with a developmental disability since 1945.
Today, and every day, we celebrate our families and guardians, direct support professionals and trained specialists, and our community of volunteers and sponsors, who together make up a team that defines The Duvall Difference. Because of you, we’re able to empower others to learn new skills and to earn a paycheck. Because of you, we can make a difference and an impact on the lives of others in our care.
In the coming weeks and months, please join us in sharing inspiring expressions of The Duvall Difference. Your stories help families to plan ahead and others to get involved.
Learn about the programs, life-skills development and vocational training services available for adults with developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsey and other disabilities at DuvallHomes.org/Programs-Services.
March 28, 2018 – After giving 37 years of her life caring for people with developmental disabilities, Phyllis Griffith, a devoted Direct Support Professional (DSP), has decided to retire.
“I don’t want to leave. I really don’t,” said Griffith. “It’s only because of my balance do I think it’s best for me to retire now. It’s going to be tough, but this way I can leave feeling good instead of risking a fall or something.”
Griffith has cared for many residents during her time at Duvall, as well as trained a great number of Direct Support Professionals. “I will miss the residents greatly, but I’ll look forward to getting the Duvall newsletter and hearing the latest news, so please don’t forget me.”
Oh, we will not forget you Phyllis. You are the heartbeat of Duvall. People like you have instilled confidence in the hearts of hundreds of families, caregivers and loved ones of those we serve. People like you have contributed to the legacy of empowering people with developmental disabilities in our community for more than 73 years. Thank you Phyllis for your commitment, loyalty and compassion!
Fellow staff and a few family members celebrated with Phyllis over a surprise luncheon in the chapel on the Glenwood campus. Treniece and Artrina, both 10-year DSP veterans, have worked alongside Phyllis caring for the same residents, said they would miss Phyllis and wish her the very best in retirement.
December 19, 2017 – Keeping Direct Support Professionals in the Conversation. Recently, Duvall Homes’ CEO, Steven DeVane, met with the Executive Director of Florida’s Center for Nursing, Mary Lou Brunell, to discuss Florida’s healthcare sector and its workforce shortages.
Housed at the University of Central Florida, the HWRI (Healthcare Workforce Research Initiative) provides healthcare occupational data to facilitate research and grant proposals that support a healthier Florida. Comprised of three research centers – Center for Healthcare Providers; Center for Nursing; and Center for Allied Health – the HWRI contributes to better healthcare workforce strategies, and DeVane sits on the committee to represent the voice of DSP (Direct Support Professionals), a profession essential to providing critical care and services to individuals with Developmental Disabilities in our state. To learn more, visit the following web pages: