Our community has many people with varying needs who make up a vulnerable population for coronavirus.

People who have an onset of illness, especially COVID-19, need medical professionals and additional supports.

As executive director of Blue Cap, I lead a staff of professionals who serve people with intellectual disabilities who are included in this vulnerable population and live in our group homes.

These folks need support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. They are served by direct support professionals who are grossly underpaid for the work they do, especially those working in community group homes.

The direct support professionals need to be recognized as much as do the other essential professionals.

At this time, organizations and programs for people with intellectual disabilities are a low priority for equipment, emergency treatment, extra funds and everything else being made available to the medical fields.

Our staff and the people we serve rely on Blue Cap’s ability to have the resources to meet their needs. Some of the people receiving supports in the group homes have family members involved, but for many individuals, Blue Cap is their family. Even for those who do have family, they are not able to see their families for their safety and well-being during this time of uncertainty.

The direct support professionals who work in their homes fill the roles of teachers, counselors, nurse aides, cooks and, sometimes, mom and dad.

The budget of our small organization is tight, with not much room for extras. So, please, when remembering the essential professionals, include the direct support professionals working on the front line for the health and safety of people with intellectual disabilities to have meaningful days during these uncertain times.

To learn more about what people are doing, follow us on Facebook at Blue Cap Charity or visit the website at blue-cap.org.

Pat Thies