“You can do it, Derrin! Great job!” Three voices cheer as Derrin starts moving his feet and propelling himself forward. Derrin, who had just been assisted from his wheelchair into a device called a pacer, can now move around the building using his own legs. “Come on, Derrin! You can’t catch me”, Richard, an assistant, calls to Derrin over his shoulder, as he jokingly challenges Derrin to a race. It is this type of teamwork between Derrin and staff that has helped Derrin, who has both physical and developmental disabilities, gain more independence.
Staff members at the County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board’s (Summit DD) Cuyahoga Falls work center have also learned to stay out of the way when Derrin is in his pacer. “It’s become a game to try to bump into staff if they aren’t paying attention. Derrin finds their reactions pretty funny,” laughed Facility Manager, Jennifer Boykin. Derrin has a good sense of humor and a great relationship with the staff there. In one instance, Derrin good-humoredly ordered Jennifer out of the room when she asked him to complete a task that he was working on.
There is a myth that lingers out there that it must take a special person to do this job at Summit DD or the jobs at its many provider partners. However, when staff are asked about this misconception, they counter that the fact is they are fortunate to get to do this job. Employees at Summit DD genuinely care and want to know more about the people they serve. There is a strong sense of respect from staff members as they detail all that Derrin continues to take on and conquer. It is not surprising the employees throughout Summit DD know the over 4,000 individuals they serve this well. For staff members in the DD field, this isn’t just a job; it’s a part of a mission that they firmly believe.
The mission is fulfilled each day through a collaborative relationship between Summit DD staff and the people they serve. Like all adults served by Summit DD, the services Derrin receives are determined by him. He is supported by a team consisting of family, service providers of his choice, and a Summit DD Services and Support Administrator (SSA). Persons served by Summit DD have the freedom of choice in qualified service providers, such as Goodwill, United Disabilities Service (UDS), Hattie Larlham, and more than 200 others. His SSA coordinates services among his chosen providers ensuring his health and safety. This coordination of services allows Derrin to live a house, aided by residential services staff from Hattie Larlham, with three roommates and enjoy his own space, as well as attend the Summit DD work center in Cuyahoga Falls during the day. Derrin applies the adaptive living techniques he learns there from his program specialist, Leslie, and certified assistants Richard and Danielle, to do his own laundry, clean the house, and do some light yard work at home. From daily chores to an evening out, Derrin and his team are committed to breaking down the perceived barriers in his way.
No, it doesn’t take a particular kind of person to do this job, but employees like Jennifer, Richard, Danielle, and Leslie, who are fortunate enough to get to build relationships with persons served like Derrin, will say that the job has helped make them into people that are out of the ordinary.
Summit DD believes that everyone has the right to work, live, and learn as equal citizens in their communities. The staff at Summit DD get to make a difference in the lives of Derrin and the more than 4,000 other persons served because of support from Summit County residents. To find out how you can get the facts and support Summit DD, sign up for our newsletters athttp://summitdd.org/Email_registration.aspx.