Service and support administrators, or SSAs, serve as the single point of accountability for more than 4,000 individuals served by the County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board. They provide information and referrals for recommended services. They answer questions about services, supports and coordination. They also assist individuals in accessing providers, programs and services.
However, an SSA is so much more than a job description. An SSA can serve as a lifeline, an advocate and a friend, as one family will tell you.
SSAs work with the people they serve, and their families, to provide individualized support. They appreciate that no two families are alike, and therefore have different needs and preferences. SSAs also genuinely care about the individuals they serve and work to build lasting relationships. These qualities are embodied by an SSA named Diamon Perry, who in her words, explained, “I aim to give my all, and then do a little more.”
Diamon has been an SSA with Summit DD for almost a year, but has actually been with the agency in other roles for over twelve years. She is dedicated, compassionate and driven. She has proven to be an excellent example of the quality of people who are employed in the developmental disabilities field.
When asked about her job as an SSA, Diamon humbly answered, “I’m honored to get to support families and coordinate the services they need to make their lives, and the lives of the people we serve, easier.”
Diamon, who refers to the families she serves as my families, explained that she is willing to do what is needed to gain full confidence from her families. Her goal is to raise families’ expectations and always keep her promises.
Diamon recalled a specific instance when she earned the respect and appreciation from one of her families. “I had spoken to a mother who had expressed a great deal of doubt about the supports that could be offered to her daughter, and more specifically how we could be of any help,” she remembered. However, Diamon knew differently and was determined to prove it.
When that same mother unexpectedly called to say that she was in jeopardy of losing her job because she lacked supports for her daughter during her shifts, Diamon recognized that the mother really needed her to come through for the sake of the entire family.
Diamon worked with other departments at Summit DD and together, they were able to identify additional services that could be utilized during the mother’s shifts. Thanks to Diamon’s commitment to her families, there was now a new lifeline for this mother and daughter – one that did not require the mother to choose between working to support her family and assuring the proper care for her daughter.
“I’ll never forget the next call that I got from the mother. She thanked me and apologized. She said, ‘you were always calm and respectful, even when I wasn’t. You were there to make sure my daughter was taken care of and I appreciate you,’” Diamon recalled.
Diamon assured the mother, “As important as your daughter is to you, she’s just as important to me.”
Yes, SSAs coordinate services and offer a variety of support functions to individuals with developmental disabilities. However, as the family served by Diamon Perry can attest to, SSAs can be so much more. They can be an extension of family, ready to jump in and help when needed.
The wonderful thing about the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by Diamon is that these traits are commonly seen throughout the almost 70 SSAs employed by Summit DD. SSAs prove daily that they are invested in the lives of the people they serve, and their families. Diamon summed it up nicely with her thoughts on the services and supports that she provides, “It’s not a job, it’s my pleasure.”
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