Local support staff honored as part of national recognition week

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COLUMBIA - This Monday isn't just the start of the workweek. It marks the beginning of Direct Support Professional Recognition Week for those helping people with disabilities.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon cutting event Monday afternoon to start the week and honor those around Mid-Missouri.

The recognition week is not just local.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed a proclamation and the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating the week for the seventh consecutive year.

Direct support staff assist people with disabilities during their daily routines like grocery shopping, going to work, or even paying bills.

Amanda Hosenfelt has worked for Boone County Family Resources (BCFR) for a year-and-a-half, but has been working with people with disabilities for almost five years.

"We're just here to cultivate their independence and help them out with what they need done," she said.

BCFR Executive Director Robyn Kaufman said that support staff deserves recognition.

"They really help people with disabilities to live the life they want to live," Kaufman said. "Without them these individuals would not receive the support they need to meet their goals and live their dreams."

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals Code of Ethics states, "A primary purpose of the DSP [direct support professional] is to assist people who need support to lead self-directed lives and to participate fully in our communities and nation."

For some, working in the industry has helped them grow as people.

"We are all imperfect, we all have rough days," said Jenna, a support staff member with BCFR. "I've learned so much about my patience and how to choose my battles."

Hosenfelt said every day in the field is different.