Serving people with intellectual disabilities since 1971.

Staff Stories

Carmen

Carmen Austin started working at SLI in October and is a Direct Support Professional in the Independent Living Program. She grew up in Fayetteville, NC and attended 71st High School. Carmen returned to her birth town of Lawrence, KS after graduation. Carmen

Before SLI, Carmen worked as a program specialist in the Child and Adult Food Program through Community Action. She helped licensed daycare providers prepare daily or weekly menus for 1-12 year-olds needing daycare. Carmen presented nutrition workshops for the providers and monitored their sanitation habits that needed to be followed by the State of Kansas regulations.

Carmen believes in the power of prayer and after a conversation with my pastor, he opened her eyes to the fact that Carmen is a people person and has more to offer of herself than just cooking for others. Carmen happened to be at the KS Workforce Center when Chrissy was there and she inquired about SLI. Carmen immediately knew this is where she needed to be.

Carmen enjoys helping the clients in any way possible - whether it’s giving advice, taking them somewhere or helping them. “I feel I’m growing spiritually getting to know all the different personalities and I get fulfillment when they listen to me and follow-thru on assignments, so to speak. When they do something without being told, it is an accomplishment for us both,” said Carmen.

Carmen’s favorite hobby, of course, is cooking. It is her first love and “it is never work when it is something you enjoy doing.” said Carmen. Something no one but her family knows is that she likes puppets! Carmen used to collect them and play with them for the kids. It was a dream of hers to go around to schools and daycares, to put on puppet shows for the kids. She has since given away her collection, all but one.

Carmen has a busy summer ahead of her with moving to another home by the end of June. She doesn’t have plans to travel this summer but should something come up, she is all in!

Cherry

Cherry AlfreyCherryCherry began work as a Direct Support Professional at SLI in October of 2017. She graduated from Atchison County High School and was interested in working at SLI because of her love to help people facing tough circumstances.

When asked about the most enjoyable part of her day, Cherry replied, “When I come into work and everyone greets me with a big smile and a sincere hello. House visits are my favorite part of the job and the best part is picking up a client following their day at work and they greet you as if they haven’t seen you in over a week.”

Cherry’s hobbies include fishing, camping and enjoying the outdoors and she describes herself as an open book who just enjoys having a good time.

Something people might not know about Cherry is during her early years she was very daring and jumped off a bridge. “It was fun and scary at the same time. I was a crazy kid and loved to do stupid things. I’m lucky that I am alive,” she said.

Christina

Christina Lewis

Christina Lewis, a Direct Support Professional, who started at SLI in April of 2012. She attended Shawnee Heights High School and Washburn University.

Christina enjoys working at SLI because she is able to build relationships with clients and learn about advocacy. She really enjoys people in general and SLI allows her to be around lots!

When Christina is not working she enjoys writing poetry, drinking wine and live music. She would describe herself as vibrant, warm and hyper and says the best advice that she has ever received is to trust your gut.

Something most people might not know about her is that she is one of seven children. Also, as a kid she wholeheartedly believed that brown cows produced chocolate milk!

Christina’s perfect day would be sleeping in until 10 am, spending the day playing with her niece and nephew and ending the day dancing at a reggae music festival with good friends.

Christina is looking forward to the month of September because she is beginning her first month of student teaching at Randolph Elementary School.

 

 

Denise

DeniseDeniseDenise joined SLI in 2014 as a Direct Support Professional and enjoys working at SLI because of the people in the organization - both her co-workers and the clients.

Denise said, "My favorite moment was when I went to the SLI Arrowhead home and one of the clients, Tina, greeted me with a big hug and smile and said how much she missed me. She truly appreciates all the things I do for her."

You can tell that Denise has a strong connection to all clients that she works with!

Ed

EdEdEd is a Direct Support Professional at SLI! He is a hardworking and loyal individual that enjoys working at SLI because he loves to help people. He is passionate about spending time with the clients out in the community.

Some of their favorite activities include fishing, shooting hoops, playing games on the Wii, going out to eat and making homemade treats.

Ed is looking forward to taking clients on out of town trips with the clients more in the future..

Erin

Erin, a Case Coordinator, started at SLI in May 2011. She has held other positions within the organization including Direct Support Professional in the Community Living Program and Community Integration Program. She is a graduate of Highland Park High School and attended Allen County Community college. Erin also has a technical degree in accounting from Washburn Tech.

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Before SLI, Erin was a nanny for four kids and that became her first insight into the IDD field because three of the four kids had been identified with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
 
Erin’s favorite part of working at SLI is the one-on-one interactions with the clients. “I like that I can take something the doctor says that they find confusing and put it into words that they can make sense of,” said Erin. She also enjoys working with the clients and helping them accomplish what they can, to gain and keep their independence.
 
When Erin is not working she enjoys cheering on the Topeka Pilots. Erin and her cousin take their kids to almost every home game. She also loves to read and square dance. In fact, one of the things that most people do not know is that she graduated from square dance lessons at 5 and is a former Associate Caller for the Northeast Kansas Square Dance Callers Association.
 
Growing up, Erin was a major “tomboy.” She was always climbing in trees or on the roof of the house. Her grandma always threatened to call the fire department to get her out. One day, Erin got her foot wedged in between two branches and couldn’t get it out. She was wearing high top hiking-style boots so she couldn’t slip her foot out. Somehow she ended up hanging upside down as she tried to get unstuck and her grandma followed through on her threat to call the fire department to get her down!
 
Erin is looking forward to February and doing something nice and relaxing because it is her birthday month. She is also looking forward to planning her daughter’s birthday party in March.

 

Jan

Jan NorrisJanJanet worked at SLI part time and recently returned as a full time Direct Support Professional. She graduated from Salina High School and Washburn University and is a retired middle school teacher.

When asked why she enjoys working at SLI, Janet replied, "I enjoy helping individuals achieve a community-integrated life."

Jan stated, “The fun part of my job is being able to interact in community-related activities with the clients.”

Kyle

Kyle, a direct support professional, joined SLI in August 2018. He is a graduate of Topeka High School and attended Independence Community College. Kyle was an honor roll student and had the top academic percentage in his class. He has worked in the disability field for two years prior to SLI.

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Kyle chose to work at SLI because he enjoys helping out the clients to become better individuals. The most enjoyable part of working at SLI is when all of the guys in the house come together and have a great time.
 
Kyle is described as kind, respectful and smart and when he is not working at SLI he enjoys playing basketball. What most people might not know about Kyle is that he has always wanted to be a psychiatrist. Kyle likes to follow the advice to treat others how you would want to be treated. And that is a good reminder for everyone to follow!

 

 

Larrica

Larrica CurryLarricaLarrica started at SLI in July of 2017 after graduating from Topeka High School. She loves to care for those in need.

“The favorite part of my job is putting smiles on people's faces. As a Direct Support Professional (DSP), that's what we strive for," stated Larrica.

In addition to brightening people's days, Larrica also enjoys making visits to various residences of clients. "When you come through your location's door and clients greet you and give you a hug, that is a gratifying feeling," said Larrica.

The best advice Larrica has received is to never dwell in the past for it is over or in the future for it is yet to come. Live in the present and make it your own. When asked to provide three descriptive words that best describe herself, she said helpful, loving and humble.

A perfect day for Larrica would entail a visit to the local park on a warm summer day with friends and family.

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