Our Stories

Since 2020, Direct Support Professional (DSP), Mark Spencer, has been working  with JM Murray client Pat* every week. Pat had just transitioned from an individual residential alternative into his own apartment.  In the middle of the pandemic, he found himself alone and lacking the life skills he needed to successfully live on his own. Like many of us, Pat was struggling to create and stick to a monthly budget, while keeping his spending under control.  With Mark’s guidance, Pat learned how to develop and implement a budget that included stretching his EBT money to last for the month, while identifying his spending needs and wants. Mark has worked on teaching Pat basic math and reading skills, using flashcards – even bringing change to practice counting money. Mark and Pat meal prep together to ensure Pat has healthy meals for the week. Mark has also assisted Pat with learning how to grill, and he now refers to himself as the “Grill Master.” They enjoy having competitions to see who can cook the best tasting burgers. The jury is still out. 😊

Last summer, Mark planned a trip for Pat to Cranberry Lake. It was a trip of firsts for Pat:  first overnight, first camping, first time swimming!! And Mark was there every step of the way. Mark also owns land, referred to as the “camp” or “the mountain” where Pat has had the opportunity to explore his growing interest in farming and gardening with a plot gifted to him by Mark. This interest even led to a trip to the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown.

Holidays are a difficult time for Pat because he spends them alone. One Christmas Mark surprised Pat by decorating the camping cabin with lights and putting a gift under the tree for Pat to open. Mark continues to work with Pat and he’s there not only as an advocate but as a mentor, cheerleader and friend.

JM Murray is proud of the important work that our direct support professionals perform. Every day they work to develop and encourage our clients’ sense of independence, autonomy and community connection. For many of our clients, DSPs are much more than staff: they are family. Want to make a difference in someone’s life? View information about becoming a DSP.


*Client’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.