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Fulfilling The Wishes & Wants Of DSPs

Submitted By: Sarah Weikel, Chief Advancement Officer, The Arc of Dutchess

Initiated by The Arc of Dutchess Board of Directors and established by The Arc of Dutchess Foundation, the Wishes & Wants Fund aims to support our direct support professionals (DSPs) during the COVID-19 pandemic through two initiatives:

  1. The Meal Fund seeks to provide restaurant meals to uplift DSP’s and ease busy mealtimes.
  2. The Activity Fund seeks to enhance activity offerings – especially as people were instructed to stay at home during the pandemic – to help staff better support people during the pandemic.

The Wishes & Wants Fund has provided more equipment and activities to the residential programs and generated goodwill between programs and direct support professional staff. Since DSP’s are at the heart of the program, the two initiatives each supported the work of DSPs during a period of great uncertainty, while also recognizing their dedication.

The critical part of the success of the effort is a strong fundraising program, and collaboration between both the development and human resources departments. It is imperative that organization’s raise enough funds to be able to provide what they intend as part of the initiative. Having a clear fundraising strategy, backed by Board support, is imperative.

Implementing The Wishes & Wants Fund For DSPs

These are the steps that The Arc of Dutchess took to make the Wishes & Wants Fund a success. Other organizations could develop this same type of fund, by taking similar actions.

  1. Establish the fund through The Arc of Dutchess Foundation
  2. Solicit donations from all Board members
  3. Solicit donations and sponsorships to underwrite costs of expenditures
  4. Take orders and arrange meal deliveries for the first and second shift employees
  5. Take orders (the day before) and arrange overnight meal delivery for the third shift employees
  6. Interface with Residential Managers to receive Activity Fund “wishlists” for each residential program
  7. Place orders for each program’s wishlist
  8. With remaining funds, The Arc of Dutchess continues to plan for Meal and Activity deliveries and purchases.

About The Arc of Dutchess

The Arc of Dutchess, a chapter of The Arc New York (formerly NYSARC), is one of Dutchess County’s largest nonprofit organizations devoted to respecting and supporting what matters to people of all abilities. Located in Poughkeepsie, NY, the organization serves nearly 1,000 people with disabilities and their families through clinical therapies and habilitation programs, along with vital services related to guardianship and employment supports, residential support, respite and other family resources, student and parent assistance in the transition from school to adulthood, recreation, and youth programs. For more information, please visit, or locate our pages on Facebook and Instagram.

2020 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2020 National DSP Recognition Week, NADSP and CQL are sharing specific organization-wide initiatives that lift up and bolster direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the entire year. These include significant, long-lasting, and meaningful actions that have far-reaching effects on DSPs. By sharing these initiatives, other human service providers can both learn about and replicate these efforts to build up the DSP workforce. This is also an opportunity to highlight the programs your organization has developed to strengthen DSPs.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.