A Change for the Better - Penn-Mar

A Change for the Better

Posted on February 21, 2023

Two women and a young boy smiling.

Betty Martin (left) with her son Orlando, and partner Krystal.

This past July, New Jersey native Betty Martin packed up her belongings and with her 11-year-old son Orlando, moved to Westminster, Maryland, to be with her partner Krystal, and begin their new life together. Within a month she was working at Penn-Mar West as a Direct Support Professional in community-based services.

The move and new career have been a big change for Betty, who grew up near Atlantic City, but she said it has all been for the better.

“I absolutely love the area,” she said. “I miss my family, but I don’t regret the move at all. It’s a great place to raise my son, which was a main consideration when deciding where Krystal and I would settle. He’s able to be a kid here.”

In addition to loving her new home, Betty loves her job at Penn-Mar. In fact, she said she doesn’t even call it a job, it’s her new career.

When she applied for the DSP position through Indeed back in August, she said she overlooked one detail in the job description – that the position was community based, something new to her.

“It was different from the work I had done in Jersey, but intrigued me so much more,” Betty noted. “I love the fact that I’m out here supporting individuals experience things they haven’t had the opportunity to experience before.”

Prior to her new career at Penn-Mar, Betty had worked for a private client supporting a gentleman with intellectual and physical disabilities. Up until then, she had worked with older adults in Home Health Care for close to 20 years.

What intrigues Betty most about community-based services, and what drew her to taking the position with Penn-Mar, is that it dispels a societal view that people with disabilities are limited in their actions, experiences, and opportunities. She’s fervently committed to changing that mindset.

A DSP with a man she's supporting to help make cupcakes.

Betty and Frank, a gentleman she supports, making cupcakes.

There are a lot of people in society who say that individuals with disabilities can’t do this, or shouldn’t do that, and here I am supporting people do everything that others think is impossible,” Betty said.

Recently promoted to Senior DSP, Betty works with between six to seven individuals in any given week. Most of the individuals either live with their families, in a community home, or independently.

The bulk of her job is supporting them in accomplishing their goals. One woman she is working with, for example, is looking to transition to independent living, so together they work on money management, home budgeting, emergency procedures, cooking, anything that she will need to prepare herself for living on her own.

A recent outing took them to the mall, where the woman looked at items she would need for her home. It was an exercise in budgeting, and once they were done, they went to the library where they reviewed and discussed all the items she would need, and how she would budget to afford them.

“We’re not always strictly working on goals, but I try to do meaningful activities with them, and also entwine some activity that supports their goals,” said Betty.

Betty incorporates a mix of educational and recreational activities, that include trips to the aquarium, local farms, museums, and bowling. She is currently in contact with a few area churches to investigate volunteer opportunities, possibly with a soup kitchen or food pantry. Volunteering, as she noted, can support an individual’s goal of finding a job.

A self-professed homebody, what Betty enjoys most when not at work is spending time with her family. However, while home she often catches herself thinking of things to do with the individuals she supports.

“It has been a big transition for me, but I can easily say that this is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” said Betty. “There’s no better feeling than to know that you’re supporting somebody to do better and be better than they have been, and to see the progress they are making as they explore new things and experiences. I’m glad to be a part of what Penn-Mar does.”

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