Carmen Dowler – West Virginia Direct Support Professional of the Year

Carmen Dowler of Parkersburg, West Virginia, creates an environment of love and understanding. She promotes person-centered planning by listening to clients’ needs and advocating for them. A client with a schizophrenia diagnosis is known for telling “stories.” One day, he pointed to a road and said, “That is where my family is buried.” At first, Carmen thought he was telling another one of his stories, however, when she asked the individual how to get there, he gave her step-by-step directions. They soon arrived at a small, isolated graveyard where the individual’s entire family was buried. Carmen brought the individual back into town to buy flowers and returned to the graveyard. This was possible because Carmen took the time to listen.

Carmen also works hard to build relationships to ensure that the individuals she serves are accepted into the community. She organizes cookouts, plans and executes monthly community activities for clients and the direct support professionals and has put together a picnic day at the park with a tie-dye party. Carmen also organized a movie day, renting out a sensory-friendly theater just for those in our care and staff.

Carmen goes above and beyond to build friendships with many of the DSPs so they can rely on her if they need something. Carmen is a pillar of support for everyone we serve and does whatever it takes to make sure that all direct support professionals and all individuals are supported and taken care of.