This South Dakota DSP of the Year is known to the persons she supports as “Carly.” She has been working at Aspire for all of her seven years as a DSP, and most of the people she supports are non-verbal. Meranda Leidholdt nominated her for the award, saying of Carly: “She makes herself a vessel for the person to communicate and advocate for themselves no matter what setting she is assisting them in.”
Carly has been a regular part of “DSP for a Day” activities when state legislators are invited to observe the work of the DSPs. She assisted one individual with pureeing a meal and helping him eat. While explaining these needs to the legislators, and how important it is to follow dietary recommendations. She, two legislators, and a person she supports volunteered at a Kids Against Hunger event.
“In assisting that individual she not only promoted community awareness,” says Leidholdt, “but explained to the legislators why we do what we do -- that the main goal is to have each individual become a contributing member of the community.”
Creativity is also a big part of Carly’s supports toolbox. She participates in the day services program and has helped everyone become more “crafty.” She has worked with her housemates in refurbishing all of their nightstands, end tables, and dressers. Carly and one woman converted an old dresser into a flower planter and also tore a TV apart to make it into a flowerpot! Everything she does is about advocacy, creativity and building relationships.