DSP's Making a Difference: Mikeshia Woodard
As part of DSP Recognition Week, FADSP is pleased to recognize direct support professionals (DSPs) who are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people they serve. Mikeshia Woodard is one of those DSPs.
Mikeshia embraces her position as a Direct Support Professional for Sunrise Communities. Her work is unique because she is a Live-In DSP, which means she lives where she works, and her work is a major portion of her life. The individuals she supports have an intellectual disability and significant physical disabilities and would typically be served in an intensively supported residential setting; but because of Mikeshia’s deep commitment, they are able to live as independently as possible in their own home.
Examples of how Mikeshia fully supports resident participation in typical community life can be seen in Miami on SW 89th Path as she and the young men cruise the neighborhood in their powerchairs; or late Friday nights at the local movie theater in line with the crowd for opening night for the latest blockbuster movie; or celebrating someone's birthday at a popular bar on its busiest night. She ensures that all three residents experience life that is typical to people in their age group, including posting their experiences on their social media accounts. Mikeshia supports individuals by empowering them with the right to make their own decisions and to express their own thoughts and feelings. She is extraordinarily thoughtful and includes their family, friends, and girlfriends in activities to enhance overall experiences. If anyone is unable to pay, Mikeshia quietly picks up the tab so that no one is left out. She encourages them to invite their friends over to hang out at the house for a Sunday football game and will provide all assistance and support necessary so that a lack of support staff for their friends is never a reason they cannot come. She is a DSP that is truly one in a million!
A specific example of how Mikeshia handled her role was at a recent milestone event. The sister of a young man she supports was getting married, and he really wanted to attend but the wedding was going to be in New York. Because he has seizures when he becomes excited, his family was unsure of his attendance because they did not want something to happen at the wedding that would distract from the celebration of the bride and groom. Mikeshia assured the parents she would not leave his side for the entire event, and that she would remove him quietly from the event without a scene. Reluctantly, the parents agreed and purchased the plane tickets. The wedding was taking place two days before Christmas which means Mikeshia would be away from her family for the holiday. Mikeshia had never flown on an airplane prior to this trip, and she grew up in Miami, so December in New York would be an entirely new weather experience. None of these things deterred her from supporting this individual in a once in a lifetime experience. Just making the trip would be enough, but she purchased a new suit for her individual and a matching dress for herself. Mikeshia is a beautiful woman, both inside and out, and she wanted her client to feel like the luckiest guy in the room, besides the groom of course. At the reception everyone wanted to spend time with this young man and asked him who his date was; instead of responding with "She is my staff" he coyly replied, "None of your business" or "Wouldn't you like to know" to which Mikeshia playfully went along with. He was indeed "the man" that evening, and wound up being the life of the party, consequently changing his family's perceptions. Guests continuously asked about the bride's super cool brother. All the groomsmen picked him up from his wheelchair and hoisted him onto their shoulders on the dance floor as they celebrated the night away. This is the way Mikeshia performs her role as a DSP each and every day.
Thank you Mikeshia for your continued service to the individuals served at Sunrise Community!