Updated: Jan 27
Kelda Desir is a mother of four and a grandmother of one. As if her family didn’t keep her busy enough, she works two jobs as a direct support professional. However, Kelda never complains because “helping individuals see their true potential, empowering them to overcome their obstacles, and coaching them through emotional trauma is very fulfilling and rewarding.”
She has been working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilites most of her life, and one of her first jobs was working in a disability organization helping people with daily activities, transportation, and companionship. Kelda loved her first job so much that she decided to make it her full-time career. Her favorite part of being a direct support professional (DSP) is teaching people that everyone in the world has a disability or something they wish they could change about themselves, but that is what makes everyone unique.
However, even though Kelda loves being a DSP, there are many days where circumstances make her job near impossible. DSPs often lack resources to provide experiences for the people they support, which can slow their social-emotional growth and may hinder their well-being. The lack of resources stems from organizations constantly training new staff. New DSPs are being brought in and trained, but they are not satisfied with the pay and find a better paying job and leave before organizations can fill their positions.
Kelda, too, has struggled with the salary of the job she loves. As a single mother, she struggles with bills, rent, and buying groceries. Even with a second DSP job, Kelda is barely able to make ends meet. Due to her very busy work schedule, time away from her family creates a hardship. She must provide for her children, but sacrifices seeing them grow up. Kelda has thought about searching for a higher paying career, but she does not have time due to juggling multiple jobs and does not want to stop doing a job she is passionate about due to money.
“I want the public to know that being a DSP worker isn’t easy, but it is worth it, and we need to invest in it. Caring for others in this capacity has been my life’s work and passion, and I would not change it for the world, the reason I have stayed in this career is due to the transformation of lives that I see. Knowing that I am making an impact on the lives of people in a way that others cannot is more fulfilling than any accolade.”