For a guy who has been working since he was eight years old, Paul Kuhn sounds and acts incredibly energetic. As a part-time Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Penn-Mar, he often tells the individuals he works with at the Maryland Day Program that the only disability in life is a bad attitude.
Paul spent 39 years teaching history and coaching basketball at Red Lion High School in York County, Pa. While there, he was actively involved with the school district’s Project Stay in School program where he took on the challenge of reducing the drop-out rate by helping students be successful in school. He knows quite a bit about the power of attitude, good and bad.
He even hit the speaking circuit on their behalf to connect the Red Lion High students with activities sponsored by community churches and organizations to let them see for themselves how wonderful life could be and how it was possible to turn one’s life around.
Back in 2013, soon after he retired from teaching, Paul was volunteering at a horse farm when he was asked to show a group of individuals with disabilities from Penn-Mar how to walk a horse. It was love at first sight on both sides and a Penn-Mar staff member suggested to Paul that he would make a terrific DSP.
Paul thought it was a great idea, too, but at the time he was also mentoring students from low-income families who were living at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa.
But being the energetic type, Paul decided to join Penn-Mar on a part-time basis as a DSP and “go wherever they needed me.” He describes the organization as a “miraculous place for helping people” and he loves being around “the special people at Penn-Mar who appreciate everything we do.”
Paul even found a way to combine his work at The Hershey School with his responsibilities at Penn-Mar. He took a group of Penn-Mar individuals to the school to work with 60 of their students on an art project.
He also had several Penn-Mar individuals address 300 students on a Hershey School Opening Day to share stories of how they overcame challenges in their life. Over 50 students swarmed the Penn-Mar group after the presentation to ask questions, shake their hands, or just pat them on the back for giving them a special moment.
That experience leads back to Paul’s other favorite expression, always count your blessings, which he goes out of his way to teach by example whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Paul is a huge advocate for DSP careers. He thinks it’s a great choice for young people and recommends the job to his retired teacher friends.
“I tell them I am blessed for the opportunity to work here. It’s like going to church. It makes me feel so good about life to be with the special people at Penn-Mar. They teach me a lot.”