23 Years and Counting: The Dedication of a Direct Support Professional
By Meaghan Ayer

Carrie Hagan is a veteran Direct Support Professional at one of Waban’s residential homes. She’s been serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 23 years. During that period of time she has built many relationships with the men and women she serves, creating quite the extended family.

Carrie began working for Waban when there were only three residential homes and two more in the process of being finished. Now in 2016, there are 25 residential programs that are the homes for more than 90 adults. She began at Waban’s Morrells Mills medical waiver home where she worked for 10 years. She then moved to Riverview, an assisted living program, where she’s worked for the past 13 years.

“We are here to bring out the potential in the individual,” Carrie said very matter-of-factly. She went on to explain that a Direct Support Professional’s job is to help maintain and build skills that provide independence. While working in assisted living homes the support staff spends their time helping members with daily activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, and getting back and forth to personal appointments, day programs, and community activities.

The conversations Carrie has with the four men living at the Riverview home are quite comical. One of the members likes to tease her about doing her paperwork, saying that he could do it better and faster than she can. Of course she doesn’t take it to heart, in fact it was one of her favorite anecdotes to share. She emphasized that the conversations, the little jokes, and teasing are what makes coming to work fun, “They’re the best part of my day.”

I asked Carrie how she’s done it for so long and she said, “It gives you a better understanding of what life is and being grateful for what you have. It’s the reward of the job.” She went on to talk about how she remembers everything about her members, how they become an extended family and how helping them to reach their daily goals are truly the best part of the job.

Before finishing our discussion she shared a memory of working in the home, one that really stuck out to her. She and the four gentlemen she works with at Riverview were eating dinner outside one day during the summer and they had heard the Ice Cream Truck go by. Michael, one of the members she’s worked with the longest, turned to one of his housemates and said, “Matt, your phone’s ringing in your room.” It’s a silly story and a simple one at that, but to this day she still remembers how hard they all laughed at Mike’s bad ears and the infamous Ice Cream Truck jingle.

This line of work, her members, and the organization mean so much to Carrie because she feels as though everyone deserves to be treated equal regardless of their disabilities, “Everyone just wants to be who they are and have a place in the world.” At Waban, Carrie is able to give her members their own special place in the world and that makes a difference.

*For more information about our Residential Programs please contact Gervaise Flynn at (207) 363-7955 or visit waban.org.
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