Meet Debi: How a teacher looking for a change found a new career as a GoodLife DSP

Meet Debi: How a teacher looking for a change found a new career as a GoodLife DSP

GoodLife’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) work – and often live – alongside our seniors and people with disabilities to provide daily teaching, support, and companionship, which are vital to each resident’s quality of life. DSP Debi Hobelman stops by the blog to tell us how she went from thinking of her job at GoodLife as something to help her through a transition to seeing it as a life-changing career she can’t get enough of. 

Debi, what led you to a role serving GoodLife’s population as a DSP? 

I had lived in Japan for 14 years, teaching in international schools, and was moving back to the states in June of 2020. I needed a sabbatical from teaching and wanted the opportunity to  truly connect with family, not just visit. My one priority was to find a job that wasn’t teaching – to find something new. A good friend of mine works for GoodLife, and when I shared with her my need for something flexible while I readjust to life back in the states, she told me a DSP role could be a great fit. 

And was she right? 

She was dead on! What I wanted was a flexible job that wasn’t teaching in a classroom. What I have is so much more rewarding, and I truly consider the residents I work with every day to be family. I work with four residents in one of our homes in Lawrence, Kan. I help make sure their daily schedule functions smoothly, join them in activities at Day Services, provide encouragement and support for skills they want to gain proficiency in, and spend time with them having fun and being together or in the community. The icing on the cake is that my schedule gives me four days off a week to spend with my family and slow life down a bit.

In what ways does GoodLife’s model for care and independence stand out to you? 

I joined GoodLife during the height of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place ordinance, so at first our house was pretty isolated, like the rest of the world. As restrictions are lifted, I get to see the relationships my residents have with other staff members and men and women across GoodLife and within the Neighborhood Network. It’s so special that their world isn’t just limited to their home, but we have a vast community with which they get to learn and spend time. I also love our approach to Quality-of-Life Plan (QLP) meetings. Everyone involved in an individual’s care, including the individual, meets together to have a person-centered talk about what’s best for that individual. It’s unique that GoodLife includes the individual, and I love this model because they should be the driving force for what needs to happen to ensure they’re living the best life possible. 

What’s next for you at GoodLife? 

Oh my gosh, everything! Recently, a live-in position became available at my current home, and I jumped at the opportunity. I am so excited to move into the upstairs apartment and stay with my sweet little family! My schedule will increase from three to four 12-hour shifts, and my commute will disappear! It‘s an easy decision to make GoodLife my career when I have so many strong relationships in place. 

What makes you smile about being a DSP? 

Days can be challenging, but they can also be sweet and simple. Our favorite moments are sunny days on the patio—music plays while we laugh and just enjoy each other’s company. This may sound silly (she giggles), but I also love Wash the Van Day! We drive the van through this car wash that has really cool disco lights. It brings me so much joy to turn around from the driver’s seat and see their facial expressions: they’re having a blast! 

What do you want to share with someone that’s considering working for GoodLife? 

You don’t need to have specific experience in caregiving to thrive at GoodLife. While I am not formally teaching my residents, my background in education provides me tools I can use to approach communication and support. Not only that, but I’m able to grow those tools every day. Consider your unique talents and how those skills could help make a difference in the life of someone who needs support and companionship. Be open to learning and experiencing growth, and be ready to have your heart changed by this family of compassionate staff and inspiring residents. 
To learn more and apply for a position at GoodLife, check out our Careers page and join us in making a meaningful difference.

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