February 7, 2019 – When it comes to building a new group home for individuals with special needs, there is a great deal more to consider than there is for your average home. And such a project demands a special builder — one with years of construction experience, insight and patience. After a monthslong search, Marsha Shankleton, Duvall Homes’ Chief Operating Officer, found the perfect builder.
Funded in part by a grant from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, last spring Duvall began the long process of searching for a parcel of land in West Volusia, proximal to public transportation and large enough to build a 3300 SqFt. home for six residents with Down syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities who are cared for 24-7 by trained and certified Direct Support Professionals. The home would need both living and office space, a spacious porch and grounds for enjoying the outdoors, and sufficient parking for special needs vehicles. A 2.5-acre plot was obtained in North DeLand.
So who is the builder? “We needed someone who knew how to marry the commercial safety of a sprinkler system, fire and carbon monoxide alarms and adequate parking, with the comfort and privacy of group home living,” said Shankleton.
Meet Tanya Ebersole, licensed contractor and owner of Camelot Custom Construction Inc. Originally part of a father-daughter team, Ebersole grew up on construction sites. With more than 30 years of experience in residential and commercial construction, she came highly recommended. (Above, Tanya Ebersole with Duvall Homes’ CEO, Steven DeVane; Below, Ebersole with Johnny Hartwell of Exclusive Drywall)
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.
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:
October 20, 2016 Duvall Homes is proud to announce that this year’s recipient of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (FARF) Excellence in Innovation Award is CEO, Steven DeVane.The award was presented to DeVane on September 21, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla., by FARF President and CEO, Suzanne Sewell (right), and FARF Board Chair, Shirley Balogh (left). The award is given annually to a director or company in recognition of continuing excellence in comprehensive community services, innovation in the application of technology to meet needs of individuals with disabilities, and consistent, successful achievement that goes above and beyond the call of duty.
“Steven DeVane combines innovative thinking with the desire to always do what is in the best interest of the individuals Duvall Homes serves,” said Sewell. “He is quick to explore innovative practices from other states and is always willing to go the extra mile to solve problems for the program he leads, as well as for all Florida members of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. We cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award.”
Within the last two years, Duvall transitioned almost 100 individuals out of a large congregate dormitory-style building on their main Glenwood campus into community group homes throughout the County of Volusia. Initially, the transition faced concerns from families and other stakeholders; however, today, they are thrilled with the positive changes that have occurred in the lives of their loved ones.
“I’m so proud of the Florida ARF recognition given to Duvall Homes and its leadership team,” said DeVane. “This gargantuan task could not have been accomplished without leadership from the entire administrative team and Sabrina Patterson (a member of Duvall’s Board of Regents.) They all worked so hard to make this a reality.”
DeVane added a special thank you to the Duvall staff who were challenged to collaborate and develop innovative ways to continue providing the best service to those in their care. Making up the executive team of Duvall Homes are Marsha Shankleton, Chief Operating Officer; Juleith Webster, Chief Quality Assurance Officer; Karen Kummerer, Chief Financial Officer; and Elizabeth Bhimjee, Chief Marketing and Development Officer. For more information, visit DuvallHomes.org. Read Daytona Beach News-Journal article.
December 23, 2012 Steven C. DeVane has been named Chief Executive Officer of Duvall Home. He will begin his duties January 7, 2013. DeVane has served as a member of the Duvall Home Board of Regents for two years and has been the operations manager for Hospice of Volusia/Flagler since 2006. He was previously a hospice chaplain, an instructor at Daytona State College, a counselor with Halifax Medical Center and a church pastor. He is a 1981 graduate of Stetson University and received his master of divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Daytona Beach News Journal, Dec. 23, 2012