One of the first outings for Kevin Alan Trotter as a direct support professional was taking people from local group homes to Holiday World.
Since that trip in August 2014, his job has been a roller coaster ride full of lots of twists and turns.
Between working at the Elm Street and Lancelot group homes in Seymour and the day program at Jackson Developmental Industries, he has been involved in a variety of activities and helped clients in various ways.
Trotter’s world has been turned upside down — in a good way.
He has found his purpose in life and knows it’s what he is meant to do.
“Anything that we can get involved with, we usually try to take our clients to,” Trotter said. “Even for us, too, it’s a learning experience. Everybody loves to be out, and the fact of going places like Holiday World, where our clients are being included in stuff that everybody does, I think that that’s great to have that inclusion. … I think that’s one of the main focuses that we try to do is just let people know, ‘Hey, we’re here, too.'”
Recently, Trotter was named Direct Support Professional of the Year at the Developmental Services Inc. awards banquet, and a few days later, he received the Anne Baxter Award from The Arc of Jackson County. Both go to direct support professionals who do exceptional work and show professionalism in the field.
Rachel Jones, county program manager for JDI in Seymour, nominated him for both awards.
“I wasn’t expecting anything. It is amazing to be recognized for what we do,” Trotter said. “The banquets were very nice and so cool. A lot of work went into both of those banquets, and I’m very thankful for that. I’m very grateful and blessed that I was chosen for both of them.”
Even though he didn’t know Baxter, the former director of The Arc of Jackson County, Trotter said it means a lot to receive the award named in her honor.
“That’s a huge thing. That’s absolutely huge,” he said. “There’s only going to be a select group of people that are ever going to be etched in that history, and I’m very honored to be one of those people that has been etched in it.”
In her nomination letter, Jones said Trotter is deserving of the awards because he is confident, hardworking and very knowledgeable; works hard to ensure the health and safety of his clients; works extra hours; works in the day program at JDI and in group homes; and volunteers to work different hours with various people.
“He is awesome,” she said. “He is very client-focused. It’s ‘What can I do to brighten your day to help you do something, to help you achieve the goal you want to achieve?’ Alan has always been dedicated to our clients. Yeah, we have our days, but Alan has fewer. Every time I talk to any of our clients, they just praise him: ‘He is just so positive. If we’re having a bad day, he will come and talk to us, and we just feel better.'”
Trotter was influenced by his mother, Angie Blewett, and aunt, Brenda Wade, in becoming a direct support professional.
“Growing up, I was always in the medical field from my mom being a nurse,” he said. “My one career in retail had ended in the spring, and then I did my last summer as a camp counselor, and it just happened to fall into my lap to be like, ‘Let me try this and see how it might be.’ Growing up with my mom being a nurse, it didn’t really faze me with client care, so I just thought I would give it a whirl, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Once he decided to become a direct support professional, Trotter trained for a couple of weeks at DSI’s main office in Columbus. That included CPR, first aid, protection and advocacy and medication training and other things related to working with people with disabilities.
“It’s like a whirlwind. If you don’t really know, then it can be a ton of information that you’re just trying to retain,” Trotter said of the training.
At the group homes, the focus is on hands-on care and living skills. That includes teaching cooking, doing laundry and learning about personal hygiene.
They also venture outside the home and go on trips, like Holiday World and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, visit the Seymour Oktoberfest, attend Mental Health America of Jackson County and The Arc of Jackson County socials and participate in Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County activities.
Trotter started at JDI in August 2016. There, he assists clients in the education and enrichment area and volunteers with them at various sites in the community.
“I adore my clients,” he said. “I love being at the workshop, but the Elm Street group home has my heart. I don’t know if that’s because that’s where I first started, but there’s just something about it.”
Jones said being a direct support professional is a very demanding job, but it’s also very rewarding.
“It’s very important to have them just because they are sometimes the only support system that our individuals have,” she said. “We’re lucky in JDI and in DSI, we have some really good people, and they have good hearts and they are focused on just improving lives, getting everybody out for those experiences, including them in our community and making sure that our community is including them.”
“At the end of the day, if I go home and my heart is happy, then I’ve accomplished my goal. That’s truly just how I feel,” he said. “A majority of the days, my heart is very happy. There are some days to where it’s sad, but hey, we all have our days.”
He’s glad he gets to be there for all of the moments in his clients’ lives.
“Even the little things, like getting a client to pour a cup of sugar into a bowl in a cooking class, to me, that’s a huge accomplishment because that client might not even want to get up out of a chair,” he said. “It’s just little things as that that make my day so great.”
At a glance
Developmental Services Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides services for adults and children with mental, physical and emotional disabilities.
DSI was established in 1975 and provides early intervention for infants and toddlers, residential living options, job training, placement and follow-along, respite care, family support, individualized community-based services and many other services.
DSI and Four Rivers Resource Services Inc. provide services and support to children and adults with disabilities in a combined 56-county area in Indiana. They have industry and service facilities in 11 counties.
DSI and Four Rivers currently offer supported living, group homes, job placement and supported employment, work services, adult day services, First Steps, preschool, health and wellness, affordable housing, transportation and information and referral services.
For information, call 800-745-7686 or visit dsiservices.org.