The Team at ALSO

May 4, 2022

An Intimate Conversation with the Heart Workers at ALSO

At ALSO, our mission is this:

To promote the full inclusion of people experiencing disabilities in the life of their community.

A relatively short sentence… but it packs a lot of punch.

First of all, when we say “full inclusion,” we mean it. As true advocates for the people we serve, our reach spans all levels of community living and support services. Every day, every staff member, and every resource we have, is dedicated to helping the people supported by ALSO programs and services in living their fullest life.

Second, “in the life of their community.” What does this mean? We are committed to the belief that people with a complete diversity of ability levels is what truly enriches and breathes life into all vibrant communities.

Today we talk to two ALSO employees, Jackie and Darrin. They take us on an exciting journey as they fulfill the ALSO Mission. They share what they give (as well as receive) while providing valuable assistance to the people who experience intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in ALSO’s services.

What are Supported Living Services?

Darrin: “Supported living is when we support an individual to be able to live independently and pursue goals and dreams that matter most to them.”

Jackie: “These are comprehensive services that are person-centered. The service plan is created by the person supported by ALSO with some assistance from their chosen Individual Support Plan (ISP) Team.

Important Point: Darrin is spot on when he talks about how people with disabilities can successfully live alone. ALSO offers a wide array of home supported living services to help people to thrive in the least restrictive setting possible. Darrin: “There is a myth that people who experience intellectual and/or developmental disabilities cannot live alone. This is not true! We find out best how to support the person and then make it happen.

How does ALSO Provide Supported Living Services to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities?

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Darrin: “First, we receive referral packets from the different counties we are licensed with…or I receive a phone call from a family member or the person looking for support. After discussing our organization with them, they determine if they would like to move forward with pursuing ALSO as their provider. Then we arrange for a ‘meet and greet.’ We always want to meet the person where they live to get a better idea of the supports and services that they will need.

Important Point: When Jackie talks about independence goals, this includes Supported Employment. In fact, Oregon is a national leader when it comes to ending the old era of sub-minimum wage jobs in sheltered workshops. We invite you to learn more about the History of Disability Employment in Oregon. Jackie: “How we provide these services can look different for every individual. We start with assigning the program to a manager who oversees that the person supported is receiving the services that they need and want. We assist with finding advocates to directly provide the specified support. The advocates will also identify what other services may be helpful to assist in the full inclusion into one’s community and independence goals.”

What are the Benefits of Supported Living Services?

Jackie: “Supported Living gives folks opportunities to live life in the most independent way possible. We assist people in going after their wants, such as employment or other goals.”

Important Point: Darrin is spot on when he talks about how people with disabilities can successfully live alone. ALSO offers a wide array of home supported living services to help people to thrive in the least restrictive setting possible.

Darrin: “People who receive Supported Living are drivers of their own supports. We are not their boss, but instead we partner with them to deliver the supports they are seeking. We do anything we can to allow them to live the life they want for themselves.”

Important Point: Absolutely Darrin! The advocates at ALSO are not the ‘boss’ of the supported person. Rather, we are collaborative partners in the creation of fulfilling home, community and employment opportunities.

Jackie: “We are here as a support system for the things that are identified as needs and help to find ways to support more independence in these areas. We assist in providing a safe environment. We also provide care teams of advocates that make it possible for someone who may not otherwise be able to live on their own.”

Important Point: Jackie and the support teams at ALSO have a great deal of expertise in ensuring a safe environment in all community living assistance and support services. This allows those who may not otherwise be able to live completely on their own to still have a living environment that they can call home.

What are the Types of Community Living Assistance and Support Services ALSO Offers?

Darrin: “We are with them as support when attending doctor appointments. We assist with medication oversight, budgeting skills, finding jobs, and connecting with their community. We also assist with cooking and shopping tasks.”

Jackie: “Our tasks center around assistance with meeting goals set by the person being supported. This includes all kinds of daily life tasks. It also includes assistance with inclusion into the community, and balancing health and safety.”

Important Point: Our talented Direct Support Professionals participate in on-going rigorous training programs so they can be effective in assisting with all kinds of daily life tasks. In addition, they undergo an extensive background check before becoming ALSO employees.

What Kind of Impact does ALSO’S Supported Living Services Make on these Individuals?

Darrin: “Incredible Impact all around. We find that people gain confidence, independence, trust, and ownership of how they choose to live.

Jackie: “Some of the impact that I have seen is that people find independence and pride in themselves. We see folks developing relationships in their communities, some for the very first time. We see people that at one time thought they would never be able to live on their own doing so and thriving!”

“We see families who have been caring for their loved ones all their lives be able to take vacations for the first time. We have seen family relationships improve because the stress of caring for others has been shared. We see folks reaching their dreams…and then dreaming again.”

Important Point: Jackie and Darrin emphasize why we refer to ALSO as the place to receive Empowered Living Support Services. It’s not just about simply existing: but rather about gaining confidence, pride in oneself, and developing meaningful relationships in communities.

Why do You Consider this “Heart Work?” How does it Align with Your Personal Values?

Darrin: “If you have a heart that cares for others and want to make an impact on others’ lives, this is the profession for you. I always tell people that it can be the most fulfilling calling in your life when you allow others in. All of us have experienced situations in our lives that we can pass on to others. This is a great way to invest in someone else and not only impact the person you are supporting, but also that person has an impact on your own life.”

Jackie: “Personally, I consider this heart work because I can go to work every day and make an impact and also be impacted. The folks we support make their way into your heart. When they reach a goal, you celebrate with them because the victory is shared. When you see relationships mended with families and others, it fills your heart.”

“When you see a family can just be a family again for the first time, you notice instead of fear you see smiles, instead of being lost you see they have found one another again, and when the families and the people you support come back and thank you, it fills your heart in ways you do not realize are possible… until they happen.”

Important Point: To the people at ALSO, caring for and helping others is not just a job, but a way to make a meaningful impact on those we serve, in addition to their families.

What Advice Would You Give to Someone who Wants to Become a Direct Support Professional (DSP)?

Jackie: “My advice would be that if you enjoy helping others, you have a good heart and are looking for something that is fulfilling, be a DSP (Direct Support Professional). It is the best career you never knew you would fall in love with.”

Darrin: “It will change your life forever. It allows you the opportunity to put someone’s life ahead of your own, which overall makes your life so much more fulfilling. This is not just a job, but a calling in your life. It is a true profession and if you allow it to be, it will become the most fulfilling responsibility you will ever take on.”

Important Point: Darrin is so right. Not only does working at ALSO allow employees opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of others. But there is something else. Through their tenacity, motivation, and love of life, the people we support have a strong impact on us as well. It makes us so proud to go to work each day!

Find Your Passion with Heart Work at ALSO

At ALSO, we are all about celebrating our abilities rather than allowing ourselves to be separated or divided by any disabilities that our fellow community members might have. We wholeheartedly embrace the conviction that we humans are more similar than different.

Wouldn’t we all want a place that we can call home? Don’t we all want to step into our communities with fulfilling employment, recreational, and social opportunities? This is what Empowered Living Support Services is all about.

Would you or a loved one be interested in exploring a career with ALSO’s Community Living and Support Services? As Jackie so aptly stated “we love to see folks reaching their dreams…and then dreaming again.”

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