DSP's Making a Difference: Alvenia Balam-Thomas
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. Alvenia Balam-Thomas is one of those DSPs.
Alvenia began her career as a DSP as a per diem substitute staff member in the adult day programs at Arc Broward 14 years ago. She filled in to support the needs of the adults in classrooms as they engaged in meaningful day activities. Alvenia supported individuals in this role until 2016 when she requested a transfer to work a regular shift in Arc Broward’s diploma deferment transition program, the School of Higher Education, as a classroom associate. It was in this role that she truly blossomed into a professional at her craft.
In 2019, Alvenia successfully completed the DSPATHS class and began peer mentoring in an unofficial capacity. She is loved by the students. As a parent and as a professional, she has developed great technique to build a rapport and relate to the students and their family members whom she serves. In her role as SOH associate, she wears many hats to support the students and the programmatic needs. She is a bus driver, safely transporting students to and from school as well as driving them to their work-based learning sites throughout the community. Alvenia is a teacher, assisting the lead ESE teacher, by facilitating lesson plans in the classroom. She is a job coach and employer consultant, assisting individuals to apply the theory they are learning in class at business sites and working with business representatives to support individuals with special needs. She is a business manager helping students work in their microenterprise. Alvenia is an advocate, case manager, field trip supervisor, lunchroom monitor, event planner, and most recently a business developer by working with the manager of an area business to become a new host training site for the students. She wears all of these hats with style and with a smile.
The team around Alvenia has noted her professional development and Arc Broward couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments. She is a role-model to other DSP’s and exemplifies the importance and impact of making a difference from being a lifelong learner. Alvenia has expertly blended the knowledge, skills, and values she has developed to provide high quality services. When Alvenia was asked what she likes the most about her role, she immediately responds with an enthusiastic manner, “the students;” it doesn’t get any more person-centered than that!
The students remain her primary customer. She provides coaching, informal counseling, and skills training to promote the students' well-being. Alvenia acts as a professional role model to other co-workers and to the students regarding ethical work practices of confidentiality, integrity, and being responsible and accountable for her actions as a DSP. She is observed on a daily basis being respectful of the students and treating them with dignity and fairness. Alvenia is the students advocate most especially at work-based learning sites. Her advocacy has resulted in the training site becoming a student's employment site. She ensures that the student, their family, and the business representatives all have the common goal of employment and increasing overall self-sufficiency.
Thank you, Alvenia, for your continued service to the individuals served at Arc Broward!