Our Mission: Create Opportunities for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their Families to Participate Fully in the Community
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A Spirt to Admire - A Special Staff PersonDecember 22, 2021


 We are so grateful to have wonderful employees ! 

Some people are extra special by virtue of their compassion, patience, protectiveness and drive to do what’s best.  For Joana Appiah, Direct Service Provider in our DDRC Individual Residential Support Services (IRSS), those attributes spring from a childhood experience that helped shape her spirit and values, and have benefitted the people she has served through DDRC for more than 10 years. 

Joana grew up in Ghana, Africa. When she was barely a teen, her younger sister contracted a disease that left her deaf. Classmates teased or bullied her sister, and early on Joana was struck by this insensitivity and saw the importance of sticking up for people and helping them be accepted and fit in.

Joana’s family was unable to afford her dream of an education to be a nurse after high school, but she parlayed a gift of a sewing machine to sew thigs to make money, and even helped other graduates learn the trade too. Eventually, Joana immigrated to America, taking her hardworking and kind spirit with her.

Over the years, often while working several jobs to help provide for her family, Joana focused on working in the caregiving field for people with disabilities. She is now part of a DDRC team helping people live as independently as they can in their own apartments with DDRC support for their health, hygiene, nutrition, housekeeping and excursions in the community.

“I want people to be comfortable, to be ready to go out in the community, be met with smiles, and not be left out,” Joana says, explaining that helping people meet the world with dignity is important. She also helps them find joy in daily living by doing activities like lunch at a park, going grocery shopping, going to a movie or doing some hobby or art at home. “I love to cook and try new recipes too, so residents can discover what they enjoy” she says.

Joana lovingly accepts that each person has their own interests, abilities and challenges. She has developed close relationships to the people she supports and to their family members too, which is comforting for family that does not live close by. Recently, Joana and Donna, a woman residing in an apartment and receiving supports, enjoyed putting up a holiday tree and decorations sent by Donna’s sister.

Joana has saved and paid to build a house in Ghana where one day she will semi-retire and help her elderly mother. She envisions starting a small business there, employing people to make water bags for homes in a community where the water supply isn’t reliable.

“Family is everything,” Joana is often heard to say, and she brings that outlook to her role at the DDRC apartment residences. She also brings that outlook to her interactions and warm encouragement to the newer DDRC IRSS staff who she describes in glowing terms. No doubt she serves as a positive example: “This job is not just because you need money. This is a job where you enjoy helping people. You need to have heart,” she says. We are so fortunate that we have people like Joana Appiah whose amazing heart helps us achieve our mission!