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Kerr DSP Ashley Smith (pictured back right) shared her story of overwork and low pay with Oregon State Senator Kathleen Taylor (front left), alongside Kerr CEO Allison Stark (back left) and Kerr client Kevin (front right).

I am a DSP (Direct Support Professional).

I love being a DSP because I know I’m making a difference in people’s lives, not just our clients’ lives but their families lives. So they know their loved ones are in good hands, getting the best care, and living their best life.

Growing up around people with disabilities was a blessing teaching me that they are no different from us, and when reaching an age where I was able to help them myself made me realize how much even better it was working and caring for them and helping them succeed in life.

Being overworked and low-paid isn’t very helpful. I try to work as much as I can to make ends meet. I live outside the county and have been trying to move back into town. With rent currently very, very high, it is impossible to move back. I commute to and from work at least 40 miles daily, adding to my expenses are the high gas prices. I try to work 60+ hours a week and feel like that’s not enough to make ends meet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working and would work all day if I could, but everyone needs a little break here and there. However, despite the paid time off we receive, some DSPs need to work constantly to survive. So, at some point, DSPs leave for better paying opportunities.

Kerr has been amazing! DSPs don’t want to leave their clients behind. It’s a win/lose situation, and no one wants to consider leaving a great place just because of low wages.

Value the work. Raise the wage!

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