DSP Appreciation Week: Large Donation Thanks Disability Service Workers and Uplifts Small Businesses

More than 3,000 Chicago-area workers who serve individuals with disabilities will receive a special gift of appreciation this week—and those gifts provided a financial boost for six local small businesses; five of which are female- or minority-owned. Chicago-based Coleman Foundation donated $50,000 to a network of nonprofit agencies, Intersect for Ability. In turn,the agencies bought products from these businesses to celebrate Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week.

The businesses include Chocolate Inspirations, a mother-daughter team who makes hand crafted and vegan treats; Cupid Candies, a 36-year-old family-owned business on the city’s southwest side; Miss Swan’s Perfect BBQ Sauce; Ms. P’s Gluten Free, a baked goods shop in LaGrange; regional Indian cuisine delivery service, Tasting India; and XO Marshmallows, the world’s first marshmallow café.

“Many Direct Support Professionals—or DSPs—reside in neighborhoods where entrepreneurs are building new businesses,” said Clark McCain, senior program officer at The Coleman Foundation. “The Foundation works to increase the personal empowerment, self-determination and well-being of individuals in Chicago communities. Every day, DSPs and entrepreneurs make critical contributions to that same goal. This initiative creates a special connection between them.”

DSPs work directly with those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them lead lives full of choice, independence, and inclusion. Their work is often challenging, and it goes unrecognized. The network of agencies created DSP Appreciation Week to provide that recognition.

“It is because of the hard work, compassion, and dedication of our Direct Support Professionals,that individuals with disabilities in Illinois are given the skills to have more independent and fulfilling lives,” said Intersect for Ability Chair Lori Opiela. “We are so thankful for all their hard work every day.”

They teach life skills such as cleaning, cooking, household chores, and money management and often assist with their personal needs. DSPs help people with disabilities stay connected to their community by providing transportation to school, jobs, and social activities.

During the six months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many nonprofits to close their day programs, DSPs have overcome challenges to deliver services and keep their clients safe.

# # #

 

About Intersect for Ability

Intersect for Ability is a collaborative network of multiple agencies serving individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages. Intersect member agencies partner with The Coleman Foundation to advance the development, execution and sustainability of cutting-edge programs and community initiatives with an emphasis on securing meaningful employment and purposeful activity, staff training and retention, transitions, and clinical services for those they serve.

For more information, contact:
Jazmine Fews jfews@envisionunlimited.org