The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recognized Carla Colvin, an employee of nonprofit Opportunity Partners, as the 2013 Direct Support Professional Award Winner for the state of Minnesota.
Colvin, a Monticello resident, is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. Her recent award recognizes her efforts to go above and beyond to help create positive change for the individuals she serves.
ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional Recognition Award is given to those who personify the values of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign, which works to ensure a well-trained and sustainable direct support workforce. Nominees are judged on the work they’ve done to build social networks, substantive community participation and advocating for the people they serve.
Colvin received the award April 30 at ANCOR’s annual conference. ANCOR is a national trade association representing more than 800 private providers of community living and employment supports and services to more than 400,000 individuals with disabilities. Opportunity Partners offers employment, training and residential services that help people with disabilities earn an income, live independently and participate fully in society.
“We at Opportunity Partners are incredibly proud of Carla. The award shows the dedication she has to support people with disabilities and reflects the quality of services provided by Opportunity Partners,” said George Klauser, Opportunity Partners’ President and CEO.
Colvin, who works at Opportunity Partners in Coon Rapids, developed a compassion for people with disabilities when as a child riding the school bus she saw other children treating kids with special needs as “different.” Years later, she left a job in the insurance industry to follow her passion to care for people and has now worked in the field for 15 years.
One example of Colvin’s service to others is her efforts to help a paraprofessional who works on school bus doing morning and afternoon routes. The paraprofessional enjoyed what she was doing but felt frustrated she could not communicate with some of the hearing children on the bus.
Colvin helped the individual sign up for sign language classes, and to help her feel more comfortable Carla took the classes with her so she could help during class and practice with her during other times. Not only is the person better able to communicate with the children she serves, but it has made a huge difference in her self-esteem.
“What works for one does not work for all,” Colvin said. “If you take the time to get to know what motivates the people you serve it makes for some pretty amazing accomplishments. I make it a point to teach the people I serve that a person’s disability is not their identity, that we are all intentionally flawed to make us unique and that everyone has value.”
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) – also referred to as caregivers, personal assistants and direct care or homecare aides – provide a rich mosaic of daily support services for people with disabilities. DSPs are integral in helping people with disabilities participate in their communities and lead full and independent lives.
“Most Americans are not aware of the critical work DSPs do every day and the essential role they play in the social and economic life of communities across the country,” said Dave Toeniskoetter, president of ANCOR. “We want to make sure DSPs like Carla are recognized for the difficult but inspiring work they do every day.”
Compiled by Managing Editor Tim Hennagir – [email protected]