My Life As a DSP

By Patience Zelee, Assistant Program Manager

ADVOCACY 063My name is Patience Zelee. I am a single parent of a six year old, and I have worked full-time as an Assistant Program Manager/Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Hammer Residences for seven years. I came to the U.S. from Liberia, West Africa, in 1998. I am also a full-time student.

When I first applied for a job with Hammer, I told myself I would work here long enough to get back on my feet – 6 months tops. But within those six months, I fell in love with my job. Now, I cannot imagine myself working anywhere else. I have come to think of the individuals that I serve as my second family. I love joking around with my second family, going to movies or dances with them, having WII parties and many other things. But, it is not all fun and games. As a DSP, I also cook, clean, order and administer medications, drive to and from medical appointments and help with bathing, grooming and budgeting. I am trained to use a lift van, a Hoyer lift, stair lift (to transfer individuals up and down the stairs), bed baths and seizure protocol for one of the individuals that I serve. It is both rewarding and exhausting work.

DSCI0143Because of the wage structure, most of us who work in this field need to pick up extra shifts or have a second job in order to make ends meet. For those of us who are single parents, we sometimes go days without seeing our children. It’s unbearable for me not to see my daughter for days at a time because I have to work so much. It’s hard for me and her not to see be with each other as much as we would like, but that is how it has to be if we want to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table.

A simple pay increase, of even 5%, would make a difference in all of our lives. I would not have to work so much, and I would be able to spend time with my daughter. It would also decrease DSP turnover, which would greatly benefit those I support.

Still, I continue to do this job because I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I believe it is one of the best things a person can do in their life. It matters to me and the people I serve.

So, please, help support a 5% rate increase for Direct Support Professionals in 2015 to better the lives of my daughter, my second family and myself.

Patience 1


  1. Jenn

    Beutifully written Patience, its such an honor to know and work with you!

  2. Julane

    You are an inspiration! Thank you, Patience, for your dedication. My hope is that you will get your wish to have a 5% raise this year.

  3. Nan Bigot

    You truly are the best DSP/APM that I know! Hammer is very lucky to have you working here Patience, you are still my favorite person! You deserve more than a 5% raise!

  4. Terriann Matejcek

    Patience, thank you so much for your advocacy work. Hammer is lucky to have you, your energy and willingness to pitch in.

  5. Suzanne Wanous

    Excellent article – thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Celeste LaMosse

    Well said, Patience! We desperately need the 5% (at minimum) and more to continue to attract quality staff and keep them. In an ideal society, people wouldn’t have to work two jobs to make ends meet and caregiving would be a respected profession. People don’t seem to realize how important our jobs are until they themselves have a loved one needing our services.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *