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DSP Award of the Year: Mary Jo McBride

April 02, 2021

This is what John DeVos, SLS Direct Program Supervisor, had to say regarding Mary Jo’s nomination:

When asked to describe Mary Jo McBride, virtually anyone you speak with at Foothills Gateway (FGI) will give you the same answer: she would do absolutely anything for anyone, regardless of what might be going on in her own life. It’s who she is. An employee of FGI since 2017, Mary Jo has been a Direct Support Professional in the field for nearly a decade. She is someone who wears many different hats, providing support to people in several of the agency’s programs. She is an Activity Coordinator for a program that provides daytime support to individuals of retirement age, she also provides Supported Living Services to individuals with disabilities who reside in nursing homes. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased risk factors at care facilities for the elderly, meeting the needs of those she supports while adhering to a variety of safety precautions and restrictions has been a challenge. It is one she has risen to with ease, despite numerous outbreaks at a facility where she sees two individuals. Mary Jo sets a wonderful example for her peers and colleagues of what it means to be completely dedicated to those we support.

In her Activity Coordinator role, she is responsible for arranging activities for up to six different groups at a time. The compassion and empathy she so clearly demonstrates is equally as inspiring as her generosity. So generous is she, that to “pull a Mary Jo” has become synonymous with magically finding just the right supplies for an activity or a special item that someone wants or needs. She tailors activities to meet the individualized needs and interests of all. Whether it be a small device that a gentleman with a tracheotomy could use to whistle for his dog, or a series of books in which the main character has the same unique name as a woman whom she supports, Mary Jo is always on the lookout for things that will bring a smile to someone’s face. Her positive spirit and demonstrated willingness to consistently go above and beyond sets a very high standard and inspires her co-workers to be their absolute best. Hers is the first hand to go up when asked to volunteer for anything. She has been very innovative during these restrictive times and has even been known to sing and dance with individuals during virtual visits conducted on the computer.

A recent situation helps to paint a beautiful picture of who Mary Jo is. For the past year, she has been supporting a young woman who, up until recently, had lived with her elderly mother her entire life. Her mother now resides in a local care facility and is near death. It seemed impossible for her to see her mother, perhaps for the last time, on Valentine’s Day. Mary Jo typically supports this woman on Friday afternoons, but she took it upon herself to reschedule for Sunday, Valentine’s Day, so that she could help to ease the pain of the experience. She did so having just lost her own mother a few months prior. That is Mary Jo McBride, Direct Support Professional.

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