On Sept. 11, I can’t help but pause to reflect on the incredible stories of those who ran toward challenge with a heart to serve and help others. On a day that felt so dark and painful, love and hope were evidenced in countless selfless acts of courage and compassion. At Ground Zero, hundreds of volunteers stepped in to assist in a variety of ways, children across the country wrote letters of support to workers in the recovery effort, ironworkers helped cut steel frames into manageable sizes, and faith communities cooked food for recovery workers and grieving families. For a moment, in the midst of numbing grief, there was a palpable spirit of kindness.
Since 2009, Sept. 11 has been designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, giving us all the opportunity to honor those who chose to serve by also taking action ourselves to help others in need. This year, Sept. 11 also coincides with the start of Direct Support Professional, or DSP, Appreciation Week — honoring the thousands of workers across our country who choose to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. DSPs are teachers, coaches, mentors, advocates, navigators and so much more. While the role of a DSP and a first responder may have a different focus, at their heart is a desire to serve and help others to thrive. Both run toward challenge with a desire to create better outcomes.
On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, I am in awe of those who have live their lives in the service of others. I have been blessed throughout my career supporting Alaskans with disabilities to be a witness to hundreds of Direct Support Professionals choosing a profession that rarely attracts attention, and yet they come to work each day with a desire to serve, support, teach and encourage. This level of investment in the good of another is so deserving of our attention and praise. On the darkest days, focusing on what brings light into the world keeps us all moving forward. Today, as we bow our heads to remember, the compassionate actions of hundreds choosing to sacrifice and make a difference in the life of another — past, present and future — is what I honor and am immensely grateful for.
— Michele Girault
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