Our Stories


Lead Direct Support Professional During Covid-10

As an undergraduate student who was majoring in Psychology at EIU, Joe heard positive comments from his professors about CCAR.  When his substitute teaching hours were reduced in 2010, he applied for a substitute Developmental Trainer position at our day programs.  Early in his career, he worked seven days per week at three different agencies until finally deciding to work exclusively at CCAR. 

While working at CCAR’s day programs, Joe was a substitute trainer (called-in when needed), a “floater” (moving to various positions as needed), and a one-on-one aide for a man with early signs of dementia. He says that his experiences taught him a lot about himself and what he could do.  When he began working in the 24-Hour CILA program, understanding both programs’ approaches and being familiar with staff from both environments gave him a unique perspective. Currently, Joe is a Lead Direct Support Professional in one of our residential homes.

In late April, Joe was in the first group of staff to volunteer to live in the residential homes to reduce the residents’ risk of COVID-19 exposure 

“For me, it wasn’t about choice. It needed to be done. It is something that affects us all. We needed to prevent the spread by having less people coming into the home. There is a client who is going to be 70. He is in that prime, at-risk group. I felt like I had to do what I could do to protect him. Again, for me, it wasn’t a choice.”

 ~ Joe Haygood, Lead Direct Support Professional

Joe said that living in the home was a “great experience”. From the first day, he made an attempt to create a family environment and to assure that the consumers felt comfortable with the new living arrangement. He unpacked his clothes and put his toothbrush in the bathroom in an effort to be just another one of the residents. However, Joe pointed-out, “I lived by their rules, not mine. It’s their home, but I made myself at home.”

Joe helped residents get past the highs and lows that go along with social distancing by grilling out (Resident Larry says that “Joe’s food tastes real good!“), watching movies, tossing the football in the yard, working on the day program’s weekly activities, and enjoying the weather outside. He tried to create as much of a schedule as possible to help them set the pace for the days ahead. Joe said that music was extremely helpful when everyone was feeling stressed-out. While they each have different tastes, they always found comfort in music whether it was R&B, jazz, gospel, or country. 

“Joe is an excellent example of what we look for in a Lead DSP. He’s kind, caring, responsible, and always puts the consumers first.”

 ~ Catelyn Sedgwick, Residential Director

When asked about advice that he would give to new staff, Joe said, ” Don’t make general assumptions about what you’ll like. Everyone’s experience is varied. You can’t make assumptions about what you can and can’t do. Some staff and consumers just naturally mesh well together. You need to keep an open mind and an open heart to the experience. If you have an open mind, then you’ll learn where you’ll fit.”

Thank you, Joe, for all of your hard work and dedication!

The above is an excerpt from our June 5, 2020 newsletter. To read our full newsletter, CLICK HERE!