A Direct Support Professional (DSP) provides valuable daily support services for the many individuals with disabilities. DSPs are integral in supporting people with disabilities to participate in their communities and lead full and independent lives. Next year COC will celebrate the 50th anniversary of offering services in Central Iowa; the success and longevity of COC have been made possible by our dedicated DSPs. This week is Direct Support Professional week, and COC plans to celebrate the approximately 220 DSPs in our agency with gifts and celebrations, but a few of our DSPs are getting state and national recognition for their valuable work.
COC is proud to announce that Laura Gronenboom has earned national recognition for her work. Gronenboom received an Honorable Mention in the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) 2018 Direct Support Professional Award Program. ANCOR is a national, nonprofit association representing private community providers of services to people with disabilities. Since 2007, ANCOR has honored exceptional Direct Support Professionals for exemplary work in furthering full participation for the many Americans living with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities.
Laura’s co-workers nominated her for this honor; their admiration and respect are evident in their sentiments on working with Laura. One co-worker commented on Laura encouragement of the people that COC supports to be physically active, “she finds creative ways to get this done and gets involved herself. One Individual we support has an exercise goal, and he wanted to do a couple of 5k races. Laura assisted him with signing up and completed the races with him.”
A humble Gronenboom credits the COC community for her achievements, “I couldn’t do a thing without the staff here at COC. The COC community is the key, and they make it fun. None of us can do what we do without a team” Gronenboom continued. “I work with the most fantastic people and working at COC has been an enjoyable experience.”
Gronenboom, who has worked as a DSP in Pella for the past three years, was also nominated at the state level through the Iowa Association of Community Providers (IACP) DSP Awards. She shares this honor along with two other DSPs from COC; also nominated were Connie Ervin and Nichole Stranger.
Stranger has worked with Indianola COC as Works Skills Supervisor for the past eight years. Regional Director, Shelli Robins, commented, “Nichole does a wonderful job of knowing the individuals, understanding their unique needs and positive attributes.”
Ervin has worked with Indianola COC for 12 years as a Life Skills Instructor. “Connie is an amazing person. She starts her day at COC by motivating person supported to try new things and to be adventurous. She inspires creativity among the life skills program by encouraging the people around her to be creativities and think outside the box,” stated Program Manager, Bailey George.
COC honors all DSPs and appreciates their hard work and dedication to the people we support.
Two things that say summer in Iowa, is sweet corn and the Iowa State Fair. So, when Look, Cook, and Eat (LCE), a digital cooking magazine, announced their Super Special Sweet Corn Creations contest, there were over 18 participants who jumped on the opportunity to enter. Look, Cook, and Eat, isn’t just any digital cooking magazine, it has a specific goal. Their goal is to help individuals with disabilities lead a more independent lifestyle, by teaching cooking and kitchen skills.
The competition, held during the Iowa State Fair, brought many different corn creations to the inaugural year of the Super Special Sweet Corn Creation Contest. The recipes ranged from corn appetizers, corn salads, and the 2nd place winner was sweet corn and chicken eggrolls with a creamy cilantro sauce. But, the recipe that took home the 1st place prize was Sweet Corn Chocolate Chip Cookies!
The winner of the contest was April Olson, who is a senior in high school. She decided to enter the contest after her special education teacher at Knoxville High School informed her class about the competition. As part of Aprils winnings, she received $500 cash and had the opportunity to donate $500 to an organization of her choice, which serves people with disabilities. April chose Christian Opportunity Center (COC) as the recipient of the $500 donation. April was introduced to COC by April’s older sister, a college student who worked part-time at COC this summer.
COC provides residential and vocational services to over 260 individuals with disabilities in Central Iowa. John Eilers, COC Executive Director, “On behalf of the Christian Opportunity Center, we want to congratulate April on winning the State Fair cooking contest and thank her for her generosity in choosing COC for the $500 donation. April exhibited a great deal of creativity in developing her award-winning cookies! Thanks to Look, Cook, and Eat for their sponsorship of this event as well.”
Founded in 1969, COC has proudly been serving Individuals with disabilities in Marion, Mahaska, Warren, and Polk counties for nearly 50 years. For more information visit http://christianopportunity.org/ or connect with Christian Opportunity Center on Facebook and IowaCOC on Twitter.