Time for Gratitude

by | Nov 24, 2021 | News

The Thanksgiving holiday tends to be a time for reflection, connection, and especially appreciation. It’s no different for all of us here at The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), and we certainly have a lot in our world that makes us extremely thankful.

We hope everyone can have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving. Most especially to all the direct support professionals who have worked throughout this pandemic and who will be working tomorrow instead of spending time with their families. As we head into Thanksgiving weekend, it is an ideal time for the NADSP staff to reflect on our gratitude.

We are thankful for Direct Support Professionals across the country, who are dedicated to making a world of difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The demands placed on this vital workforce are overwhelming, yet they continue to carry on in their important work demonstrating professionalism, competence, and an unwavering commitment to quality.

We are thankful for human service organizations throughout the nation, that are dedicated to elevating the status of Direct Support Professionals so that people receiving supports are empowered to live a life of their choosing. Organizations confront so many challenges in funding, staffing, regulatory changes, and more, yet they remain focused on providing person-centered services through creative and effective approaches.


Staff Reflections

We asked members of our staff to reflect on their gratitude for the season. Here are their responses:

Joseph Macbeth, President and CEO:

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that just doesn’t get enough attention. It’s the only holiday dedicated to giving pause, being reflective and showing gratitude for all the things we have in our lives; friends, family, health to name just a few. After nearly two years of living in a world-wide pandemic, this year might be a real challenge for some of us to give thanks – many of us have lost people we love due to the pandemic. As the CEO of this organization, I have many things for which to be thankful (my colleagues, our dedicated board of directors, my fellow staff and business partners), but I’m mostly thankful for the 1.5 million direct support professionals who have sacrificed so much with so little fanfare. Direct support can be a difficult job on the best of days, but as any DSP will also tell you, it can be the most gratifying job on the most difficult of days. I know that I will be taking a few moments on Thursday and give thanks to those working this holiday as well as for those DSPs who are fortunate enough to be home with their families and friends. Let’s hope that next year might be easier. Stay safe and healthy.

Desiree Loucks Baer, Chief Operating Officer:

This year I am grateful to be able to continue to work with a community of people who share an understanding and commitment to others. The others in this case are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities working to live their best lives, and the direct support professionals who make this possible daily. It has been empowering to me to watch this community come together to give the best that they have during a time where the country and the world is struggling. I am thankful that my path has brought me to these people, to learn from them, to work with them, and to be inspired by them in all the work we do. It is during the most difficult times that we need to be the most mindful of the best things around us, and to practice that gratitude to what those things bring to us. I choose this Thanksgiving to recognize the best in my world and to openly be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to all and thank you for all you do to make the lives you touch more meaningful.

Dan Hermreck, Director of Certification and Accreditation:

This year I am especially thankful for all the NADSP E-Badge reviewers. These dedicated professionals are all working in human services, with all of the challenges that come with that right now, but are still using some of their limited spare time to provide validation and feedback to DSPs all over North America. On a personal note, I am thankful that so many of the people in my life have managed to stay healthy and safe during the current pandemic.

John Raffaele, LMSW, Director of Educational Services, :

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I try to be grateful and thankful all year-round, but Thanksgiving is a day to laser- focus on what is abundant in one’s life.  For me, it is my children, my family, my home, my work, my health and my dog are all top of the list.  I am grateful for the privilege to be part of the direct support community.  Ultimately, I try and feel some sense of gratitude each and every day and I also try and help my children do the same. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nicole Dama, Office and Communications Manager:

I am so grateful for all of the folks doing amazing work all over the world, despite the many challenges involved. I am so grateful for the work of the DSPs who work tirelessly to support others. Turkey day is always a time for me to reflect on the past year. One of the big lessons I have learned this year is that it is okay to ask for help when you need it.  We can do hard things and we can ask for help.  I am grateful to the great supports in my life and our incredible team.


Finally, we are thankful for those who support the mission, vision, values, and guiding principles of NADSP. Without this backing, our important work would not be possible. As we approach the end of 2021, we’re specifically appreciative for the numerous organizations that show their support through NADSP Membership. To the thousands upon thousands of employees working at these organizations throughout across North America, we appreciate your involvement in our national network.


As we look ahead to our 2022 NADSP Membership drive, we are excited to see the strengthening of relationships with our current partners, as well as the establishment of new ones through our national network. These connections are of critical importance to all of us here at NADSP, and for that, we are truly thankful.

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