Making a Difference in Someone's Life
“I love my job – my clients are my life,” exclaims Karen Robertson of Maine. A conversation with Karen makes it very clear that her role as a LifeShare direct service provider (DSP) is fulfilling, and suits her perfectly.
Karen is Mark’s DSP three mornings a week. The time they spend together gives Mark, who is 25, a greater sense of independence, and frees his mother’s time to complete her activities, as well. Karen and Mark spend their hours doing both recreational and academic activities, such as going on long walks, playing basketball, talking and practicing sign language on Mark’s iPad where he learns new words.
Karen has worked for LifeShare for just over a year, but has been in the business of helping people with special needs for about 20 years. She was a certified behavioral health professional working with children, but decided to return to working with adults years ago.
“I like to make a difference in someone’s life…make them smile at the end of the day,” she explains. That’s something that Karen and Mark have in common.
“Mark is always patient and smiling,” Karen notes. “He wants to accomplish things where someone else might not, and he makes other people smile. He’s got a great sense of humor. If you’re having a bad day, you won’t with Mark around!”
Mark lives with his mother, stepdad and brother, who are very supportive of Karen and her work with him, she says. Karen allows Mark to access the community more than he was able to in the past through their activities, such as going to the library to read and to the local YMCA. His actions and words make it clear that he enjoys the special time they share.
“He says, ‘I love you, K’, and that makes me feel good,” Karen says.
“When I know I’m going to work with Mark, I wake up in a happy mood,” Karen says. “He makes me laugh! We sing and dance – I’m getting paid to have a good time with Mark.”