A Message of Appreciation for DSPs From Birch CEO Matt Sturiale

Monday, September 13, 2021 

To All of Our Direct Support Professionals – Thank You for All that You Do!

“BE MY MICROPHONE, NOT MY VOICE.” – David Hingsburger

David Hingsburger was a prolific storyteller, clinician, and international disability rights advocate from Canada who passed away on July 18th. For more than 50 years, David was provocative and masterful in his approach to being an advocate for the people we support. He raised awareness of the expectations placed upon frontline staff and the essential role you play in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most importantly, he challenged all of us to continue to work towards full participation of people with disabilities at home, school, work, and within their communities. Do you recognize the synergy between his quote and our mission – empowering individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to lead fulfilling lives? To empower individuals, regardless of age and capability, requires us to listen to what our children, adolescents, and adults are saying. For people to thrive and reach their fullest potential, we must listen to what they want, what they need, what they dream and what they choose. By doing so, you create a sense of excitement about all that is possible for each person that we support. Because of this, I joined this social justice movement by becoming a Direct Support Professional more than 40 years ago. I wanted to be part of a movement that created opportunity and equity for people who did not have access to such and did not have a voice. I wanted to be their microphone. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are called upon and challenged to do this every day in so many ways.  

This week, September 12-18, 2021, is National Direct Support Professionals Week. This is part of a national movement to bring attention to the critical role of DSPs supporting individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to lead the lives that they want as contributing members of their communities. This week we celebrate our Community Services team. Whether you support individuals to learn life skills to be more independent, assist people in accessing medical care, help people develop employment or work readiness skills, or teach individuals to build social connections and live happy, healthy, and productive lives in the community, you are doing the powerful and noble work of a DSP. Each day, DSPs share their talents to enhance the lives of others. You put the needs of others first and support people in reaching their fullest potential. You manage to do this with patience, compassion, sensitivity, and good judgment, even in challenging situations. Whether it is navigating the challenges of a pandemic, keeping people safe through storms, creating opportunities for independence and community, supporting our families in need, or being flexible to accommodate the team – the last eighteen months has brought out the best of who you are and what you do.  

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts in supporting our individuals and families. You are the foundation of all things possible for our individuals and families and continue to be a source of motivation and inspiration for me. For my part, I will continue to work on behalf of the people Birch supports and their families. I remain committed to working with all of you to ensure that we continue to advocate to our partners in government at the federal, state, and local levels to better understand the complexity of your work and the need to ensure a living wage. Birch Family Services remains committed to our ongoing efforts to recruit and retain the best qualified and trained workforce who can be the microphones for our individuals so we all can hear their voices and they can lead the lives they choose. 

Our programs are planning celebrations this week to recognize and thank you for all you do. On behalf of the individuals and families – THANK YOU! We all salute the work you do. 

Have a wonderful week!  

With respect and admiration, 

Matt Sturiale
President & CEO
Birch Family Services