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Supprting others

Bethesda Direct Support Specialist Amy Lieske, right, shares a special birthday weekend each year with Fox Lake resident Robin S.

FOX LAKE – Amy Lieske of Beaver Dam is making a career out of helping others. As a direct support professional for Bethesda, she is responsible for helping people with mild to severe intellectual and developmental disabilities live the lives they want.

Bethesda operates more than 300 programs in 13 states, including two homes in Fox Lake which house six residents each.

Lieske is a lead direct support person in Fox Lake. She has been with Bethesda for more than eight years and has worked in the profession for 17 years.

As National DSP Recognition Week comes to a close, Lieske reflected on her job choice and what it is all involved in her chosen profession.

“I was drawn to this line of work because I have some family with special needs and developmental disabilities and I grew up close to them.” said Lieske. “Overall I’m a people person and like to make others happy. I also work at Beaver Dam Community Hospital.”

She said her work days are spent doing different activities and going out into the community.

“We are a Christian organization and some of the residents are involved in various local churches and we facilitate their ability to attend there.” she said.

Lieske is responsible for the development and implementation of all support plans, including spiritual life supports, assisting people in achieving their personal goals and desires, providing interaction and choices for activities that support a meaningful day, and supporting people to be independent in activities of daily living.

Eric Navis, program manager of Bethesda’s Fox Lake locations, said Lieske provides an important service and DSPs are the backbone of the organization.

“They’re here day-to-day supporting people’s interests and being involved in their everyday lives,” he said. “They really make a difference.”

Lieske likes to schedule monthly dinners and outings for all of the residents. She also treats one of the ladies to a special birthday trip each year. They take three days, book a hotel and shop until they drop. Lieske does all of the coordinating in addition to volunteering her time. She also pays her own way for the trip so that the person supported can use all of their funds on themselves.

Lieske said the woman’s mother treated her daughter to the same type of trip throughout her life and when the mother died she decided to step in.

“I decided to do the trip because it was always important to her and truly makes her feel incredibly special and loved,” she said. “For the past seven years we pick a location, go shopping, swimming and out to eat. When we get home she’s already talking about what to do next year.”

Lieske said she and the other DSPs enjoy their work greatly.

“All the staff members in Fox Lake have been here five years or more. I would recommend this line of work to anyone who wants to spread love where needed.”

“I was drawn to this line of work because I have some family with special needs and developmental disabilities and I grew up close to them.” Amy Lieske, Beaver Dam

Follow Kelly Simon on Twitter @KSchmidSimon or contact her at 920-356-6757.