Staff Spotlight: Vicki Fountain
Vicki is a DSP in InVision's Residential Program.
What’s your name?
Why did you become a DSP?
I became a DSP because where I had worked as a teacher in an Adult Day Program was moving and downsizing. I was encouraged to apply for the supervisor position of the day program, but I no longer agreed with the direction the company was moving in. Part of the downsize meant people in wheelchairs or people who needed one-on-one assistance in the program couldn’t be accommodated. Since one of my students used a wheelchair—and I needed a job—I asked my student’s supports coordinator for recommendations on good companies I could work for. She gave me three companies, and one was InVision.
I went to InVision and saw what a difference one-on-one support made for a person with intellectual disabilities compared to a class of ten people and only four staff. It was hard to give a lot of individual attention to anyone because you were often just trying to take care of whatever came up. It was amazing to be able to work one-on-one with my student to help her live the life she wanted to live. It gave me the opportunity to let her lead in what she wanted to do, and it showed me her potential that I wasn’t able to see before because of the many needs of my other students. One-on-one support was a game changer.
How many years have you been a DSP?
About four years.
How many years have you worked for InVision?
Four years and 10 months.
In which program do you work?
Residential, but I do sometimes work with Community Supports. While I learned a lot in Community Supports, it made me realize I prefer working in a direct support position.
What do you like most about working with InVision?
I think what I like most about working with InVision is that I believe in its philosophy of helping people to live the lives that they want to live. It’s not about me and what I want, it’s about helping them to live the way that they want to live and me supporting them as best as I can.
What’s your favorite part about being a DSP?
My favorite part about being a DSP is making a difference in people’s lives. I love seeing them grow in their ability to make good choices and helping them with whatever is needed. Giving haircuts, helping someone cope with loss, dealing with quarantine, cooking, cleaning, shopping, arranging furniture, gardening, celebrating, helping to organize…the list is endless! I love that there are so many things that we get to do to help someone to live their lives.
I get the privilege of being there for someone in so many aspects of their life allowing them to be their own driving force and supporting them as best as I can. What a gift and a privilege!
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as a DSP?
I feel that the biggest challenge I’m trying to overcome as a DSP is trying to stay calm when someone is upset or anxious. I can relate to how they’re feeling, so I try to stay calm instead of adding to how they may be feeling. I try to do that by telling myself that I need to stay calm to help them.
By being aware of my breathing, it’s a work in progress. I feel like it’s what makes me good at my job: Not only connecting with others and understanding them, but also realizing that for me to be able to help them, I need to keep calm and be a good example to encourage the person I support.
What do you wish more people understood about your role as a DSP?
I think what I wish more people understood is that we wear so many hats. Sometimes you feel like a nurse and sometimes like an educator in cleaning, cooking, gardening, having fun, and learning how to relax and relate to people. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work and other times you don’t know if you can keep working in this capacity. Thankfully, it’s a combination of both. The good and the challenging. I feel like I have learned so much about myself and continue to do so every day.
It has been such a blessing in my life to be able to work in such a personal way by helping people. It isn’t always easy, but it has been incredibly rewarding for me.
When you’re not working, what do you usually do?
I like to read; pray; meditate; help others; sunbathe; cook; sit by the firepit or fireplace; spend time outside; garden; and do various projects or decorate around the house.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
“Easy Like Sunday Morning.” I think I’ll be working on that for the rest of my life.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I used to own a motorcycle and I plan on buying a scooter (hopefully) in the near future.