- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

ROYAL CENTER, Ind. (AP) - Donna Kite has been taking care of 31-year-old twins Brad and Brett Good and catering to their special needs since they were 8 weeks old.

On Wednesday she received a statewide recognition on a national stage for her work as a direct support professional - a job she enjoys as much as the twins’ family appreciates her dedication.

Linda Good, Brad and Brett’s mother, said the twins have fragile X syndrome, leaving both developmentally disabled and Brett nonverbal.

Kite and Linda have been friends for decades, and Kite started babysitting the twins shortly after they were born.

Then Kite began working as a direct support professional for Cardinal Services of Indiana in 2003, when a state initiative allowed the Goods to take advantage of services the agency provides.

Just about every morning, Kite comes to the Goods’ home in Royal Center to spend the day with the twins. She gets them fed, clean and dressed before setting out on fun activities like walking local trails and visiting their mom at work until it’s time for Brad to go to his job at Kidz Connection Daycare at Logansport Church of the Brethren, where he’s helped keep the facility clean for the past eight years.

On special occasions they like to go to a zoo, watch a parade or get ice cream, Kite continued.

Kite also works with the twins on their goals. Brad’s include identifying colors and holding doors for others while Brett’s consist of using silverware and ensuring he chews his food.

One of their goals years ago was to visit a restaurant, Kite recalled. But when she parked outside of Bob-O-Link Drive In, the social Brad was raring to go while Brett refused to even get out of the vehicle.

Kite said she explained her dilemma to restaurant co-owner Deb Shanks, who offered to bring their drinks out to them and chat. Then, after months of that kind of regular exposure, Brett was eventually able to go inside.

“That was amazing,” Kite said.

It continues to be a popular place to visit for the twins, just as it was on Friday, April 28, when they ran into Bob and Joyce Miller inside.

Joyce recalled Brad’s visits to the locker plant she formerly owned and his eagerness to start up conversations.

“He always had a smile on,” Joyce said.

The American Network of Community Options and Resources is recognizing Kite at its annual conference Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas as Indiana’s 2017 Direct Support Professional of the Year.

Kite said she was surprised to learn of the recognition.

“I don’t feel like I do anything different than anybody else,” she said. “…It was very humbling, because I know other people are just as deserving.”

Linda said the recognition is well deserved.

“She has been god sent to us people,” she said of Kite. “… I think anybody who works with people with special needs is deserving, because it’s hard to find people to work with kids like this.”

Kite said she doesn’t understand why that is, adding that she loves her job of taking care of Brad and Brett and making sure they pursue their goals.

“Then you go run around with them,” she continued. “You go shopping and you go to the zoo, you can go anywhere you want to go in the state of Indiana. Who wouldn’t want a job like that? It’s fun!”

A letter Linda and her husband, Chet Good, wrote in support of Kite receiving the recognition for her care of their sons, states Kite “has been our support in good times and bad and has offered unwavering loyalty and care as they have grown and matured.”

“She has worked tirelessly to make sure they meet their goals and is a wonderful teacher and caregiver,” the letter continues. “She pushes the boys to try to find their true potential. Both boys respect and work hard to please her.”

The letter goes on to praise Kite for the way she has familiarized herself with the twins’ routines and medications, the way she manages them in all situations and her fearlessness in taking them into the community to interact with others.

“She has been a constant and steady anchor in our household over the past 31 years,” the letter states.

More than 26,000 Hoosiers work as direct support professionals, according to a press release from Cardinal Services of Indiana, which adds Kite has “every quality you would want in a DSP.”

Barbara Merrill, CEO of the American Network of Community Options and Resources, said in the release that the organization received hundreds of nominations highlighting DSPs across the country.

“DSPs are the front line workers we rely on,” Merrill said. “These awards are just one small measure of saying thank you to individuals like Donna Kite, who can be proud of the difference her work has made for the people she supports at Cardinal Services.”

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2qwCfow

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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