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Congratulations, Kathy Hingtgen!

March 13, 2020

Foothills Gateway Direct Support Professional, Kathy Hingtgen, named Alliance Colorado DSP Honoree 2020.

Kathy is greeted on stage as she accepts her award at DSP Honoree 2020

Each year, in line with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day at the State Capitol in downtown Denver, Alliance of Colorado asks agencies across the state to submit nominations for the award of Direct Support Professional honoree. Kathy Hingtgen, who has worked for Foothills Gateway for 16 years was nominated by her supervisor, John DeVos, and was awarded DSP Honoree 2020 on February 26.

Here’s what John DeVos wrote about Kathy:

John and Kathy pose for photo after the award presentationIn my 40 years of experience within this field, I have never encountered a Direct Support Professional who displays the same level of passion for her work and dedication to the people she supports as Kathy Hingtgen. A part-time employee of Foothills Gateway’s SLS Direct program since 2004, Kathy has been instrumental in the successes experienced and quality of life attained by the many individuals she has worked with over the years. In a field where employee turnover can sometimes resemble a revolving door, Kathy’s passion for the work she does has not waned. If anything, her passion has picked up momentum and shows no sign of slowing down.

Kathy is efficiency and thoroughness personified. With nearly 16 years in the same part-time position, she is intimately familiar with all aspects of her role and performs them with the precision of a well-oiled machine. From meticulous tracking of the type and number of service units available to the individuals she supports, to the thoughtful and vigilant review of the language used in an Individual Specific Support Plan to make sure that it is truly individualized and accurately describes the person’s strengths and abilities using respectful, person-centered wording.

Kathy currently works with 7 individuals, all of whom have a diverse array of abilities and needs. She approaches them all with the same level of vigor and determination. Whether she is assisting a blind man by cutting up his fruit, or encouraging a woman to advocate in her own best interest while dealing with a complex illness, Kathy approaches each situation as though it is her top priority.

When one of the individuals she supports was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2017, Kathy supported her throughout the process. From the initial shock of the diagnosis and what it might mean to her future, through the hours spent having treatments at the hospital, to the ceremonious ringing of the bell following her last treatment and the announcement that the battle was won.

Kathy and friend, Linda, pose for a photo in front of the Colorado Capitol on IDD Awareness DayWhen they learned that the cancer had returned this past November, the knowledge that she would once again have Kathy’s unwavering support significantly softened that blow. Always the motivator, Kathy is her biggest cheerleader and has plenty of strength to share.

In another recent instance, Kathy’s thorough and proactive approach to support eased the blow of some potentially devastating news when she learned that an individual’s employer, for whom he had worked for decades, was drastically reducing his hours, Kathy took the lead in the situation and identified the details that would need to be addressed. Covering all bases, Kathy immediately consulted with all members of his team, including his case manager, vocational supports, family members and the supervisor who would be delivering the news to discuss the impact the news would have on the individual and mitigate any unnecessary stressors.

Photo of the plaque awarded to Kathy for her exemplary work with individuals who have disabilitiesShe rearranged her schedule so that she could be at the meeting to support him, and she made sure that he would not be scheduled the next day so that he would have time to absorb the news. She cancelled previously scheduled rides to work so that he would have one less thing to deal with, and when he received the news, she comforted him as he cried, holding back tears of her own.

Despite the fact that she spends most of her days in overdrive, traveling from home to home, making sure that everyone else’s needs are met and they feel valued, Kathy would never describe her role as having involved sacrifice. Instead, she describes her work as a privilege, and gets great satisfaction in helping others to live their best lives.

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