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Area DSPs recognized for their efforts

submitted photo CCSI Executive Director Marty Rickers (back, from left), City Administrator Craig Clark, Alderman Mike Woll, Alderman Lyle Ten Haken, Alderman Mike Kuhle and Mayor Alan Oberloh (seated) are shown during the signing of a proclamation declaring Worthington DSP Recognition Week.

WORTHINGTON -- This week, direct service professionals (DSPs) are being acknowledged for the care they provide to the disabled community. In conjunction with the National DSP Recognition Week, Mayor Alan Oberloh signed a proclamation declaring it Worthington DSP Recognition Week as well.

"It's a time for organizations to thank those people that do the actual work of delivering the services," said Client Community Services, Inc. (CCSI) E0xecutive Director Marty Rickers.

One way CCSI is thanking Direct Service Professionals, Rickers said, is by giving them an additional four hours of paid time off.

Among the 15 group homes that CCSI operates -- in Worthington, Windom, Luverne and Sibley -- the non-profit agency serves approximately 80 people with the help of about 135 Direct Service Professionals.

"We're not here to do things for them," said DSP Deb Folkers. "We're here to help them stay more independent."

Folkers, who has been in the field for more than a decade, said that working with the disabled is not a job anyone can do -- "either you have it or you don't."

"You have to be strong but compassionate," she said.

As for the residents with whom she works, Folkers said that they forge a bond of friendship quickly.

"We have to be friends to work this close together," she added.

"When I came into this work, I inherited about 100 new friends," said Rickers, echoing Folkers' sentiments.

Direct Service Professionals provide various services -- from administering medication and accompanying them on doctor's visits, helping with laundry or cooking, or just being a shopping buddy.

Diane Sletten, a longtime resident at one of CCSI's group homes, said she had a good time with Folkers when they went on a shopping trip Tuesday to ShopKo in Worthington.

"It was exciting to find all the good deals, because we're learning to watch our budget," Folkers said.

For Sue Boots, a nurse at Ridgewood, an intermediate care facility, the job scope is slightly different.

"We deal with mostly medical-related things for lower -functioning individuals," Boots said.

All 20 years of Boots' nursing career has revolved around working with the disabled population.

"After I graduated from nursing school, I had a friend that worked there, and she asked me to apply," Boots said about how she started in the field. "I applied and never looked back."