The Caring Force Blog May 2022 Workforce Hero: Deon Shirley

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our May TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Deon Shirley, a direct support professional in Cape Abilities’s residential program.

1. Tell us about your background.  How did you decide to pursue a career in human services? 

Originally, I did a lot of customer service work. I moved here from Florida in 2008, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for customer service at that time. I noticed that there were a lot of CNA and home aid jobs, which I had never worked in before. I applied as a visiting nurse, and that’s where I started in human services. That was the best thing I ever did – I’m just sorry I didn’t start sooner than I did.

I really enjoy working in this field. I think it’s a great opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives by just helping and being there. I love what I do.

2. What is your favorite professional memory? 

There are so many, where do I start? At the group home that I work in now, the individuals are all amazing. They are like my family. We just have so much fun – we get dressed up, we cook together, we go for walks. We just have a great relationship. There are so many great memories, I don’t even know where to begin.

3. The pandemic has been ongoing for more than a year.  How have you coped with its challenges? 

It’s challenging for everyone, but we get through it the best we can. Before the pandemic, there were a lot of things we were already doing in the house to keep us safe, like washing our hands regularly, etc., so we just continued that and added social distancing and masks. We get outside by going for walks, and we just try to deal with it together the best that we can.

3. This question is from our April 2022 TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Samantha Webb: With the pandemic, how do you keep your individuals/ person served at your agency/organization engaged/entertained and not bored?

The individuals here lead very active lives – they are always busy doing something or going somewhere. But something they all love at the house is cooking. We set up a cooking schedule, so everyone can have their day to participate. We try to find something that everyone has in common that they love, and we do that together. Along with cooking, we play games, go on walks, etc. We are always active and always doing something together.

4. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight? 

How do you make quality time for each individual in your home or program, without anyone feeling left out?

Thank you so much to Deon and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.

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