We are delighted to share the exciting news that Emmaus’ very own Direct Support Professional, Braden Griffin, has received the 2020 Direct Support Professional Award from the St. Charles Coalition of Service Providers. Recipients of these awards are people who provide direct support to individuals with developmental disabilities and are dedicated to providing opportunities for the people they serve to become active, valued members of the St. Charles County community. This award is designed to recognize those individuals who demonstrate consistent dedication and who are frequently going above and beyond their typical day to day responsibilities.
Emmaus team member, Braden, with client
When Braden joined our organization six years ago, this was his first job in the field; but it was evident from the start that he had a passion and a natural gift for connecting with those he supported and a desire to enrich and enhance the lives of each person he came into contact with. Braden consistently takes the initiative to create new adventures for the gentlemen he supports and has the skills and influence to motivate the clients to want to be better, do better, and live life to its fullest.

Although numerous examples could be given for each criterion, we would like to focus on the areas of: Advocacy, Creativity, and Exceptional delivery of direct support, as we highlight the qualities that make Braden a great candidate for this award.

Emmaus Team Member, Braden, cooking with Emmaus client Brett
One of the most impactful gestures Braden has taken this year occurred after one of the clients had experienced an extremely traumatic event while home with his family. Although Braden was there to transport to counseling sessions and often comforted the individual when he was having nightmares of the experience, he felt like he needed to do more; so, he sprang into action. After checking with his supervisor to see if the client had funds, Braden set out to plan a trip that would hopefully bring some joy and peace to the young man in this trying time.

After talking with the client about his interests and wishes, Braden created an itinerary and booked a trip to Disney World. Because he knew the individual could become very anxious at times, he also booked flash passes so they wouldn’t have to stand in line. Once he and the client returned home, all that client could do was talk about how much fun he had and how he could not wait to go back. He showed staff his pictures and his hat and he kept repeating, “Braden is the best!” The smile the client had was due to Braden’s dedicated attention and care. For that moment, the client did not have to deal with his issues and was simply focused on the fun he was having.

Emmaus Team Member, Braden, holding a peace sign with client Brett
When the COVID pandemic began, and we asked staff members if they would be willing to shelter in place at their assigned home for a week at a time; Braden was one of the first to volunteer. He has sacrificed his summer, any travel plans he might have had, and is choosing to shelter in place at his own home when not working to reduce the clients’ and other staff members’ potential for exposure as well. When arranging his school schedule, he took into consideration his commitment to the clients and home and has now even agreed to continue sheltering in place until the end of the year and even longer, if necessary, for the safety of the clients and staff. As a result of him living in the home for a week at a time, he has made it possible for the clients to experience stability and consistency, which has brought them a greater sense of comfort in this uncertain time.
Emmaus Team Member, Braden, cooking with Emmaus clients
During this unprecedented time, Braden has constantly looked for ways to keep the clients engaged, happy, and safe, which has presented its own challenges. He researched various activities that he felt the gentlemen could safely participate in and would then present them to his supervisor for approval. One of these ideas included taking clients to a drive-in theater, which would allow them to social distance but still get out of the home for a while.

Unfortunately, this was at a time that COVID exposures were on the rise and wasn’t approved; however, this didn’t stop him from looking for alternatives. Braden took the initiative to research movie projectors and screens, priced them, and brought it to his supervisor for approval should the gentleman have the funds. Once the projector was purchased and delivered Braden scheduled weekly movie nights, bringing the drive-in home to them. On at least one occasion, he was able to coordinate with one of the client’s parents to make it a family movie night.

Emmaus team member, Braden, having fun with client
Braden’s efforts during the pandemic didn’t stop there. When family visits were limited, he guided a guardian and client through the process of selecting and setting up an IPAD in the home to allow them to see and communicate with one another virtually until in-person visits resumed. He also worked with the clients to win a virtual scavenger hunt and earn a pizza party. Braden has kept the clients’ spirits up by participating in exercise programs via Facebook Live events and has helped them maintain their weight and stay fit as a result. Braden is also making sure the clients are attending virtual church and keeping their spiritual hunger fed.
Emmaus team member Braden doing a Charlie's Angels pose with Emmaus clients
Another great illustration of Braden’s exemplary delivery of supports was witnessed during a visit to the home where one of the clients was eating his food with chopsticks. In total disbelief, the staff asked the client how he learned to use chopsticks, and the client simply stated, “Braden taught me.” This is just another example of Braden knowing no limits when it comes to introducing the clients to new experiences.

Braden is a valued member of our organization and continuously exemplifies our four core values of customer-centeredness, initiative, collaboration, and integrity. This was especially evident by the numerous nominations he received this year by his peers, leadership team, and supervisor for our core value of Initiative, which he subsequently won out of more than 500 DSPs in the organization. Braden routinely goes above and beyond for the clients he supports, advocates for their rights and dreams, partners well with the guardians, and is a consummate team player.

We are proud to have such passionate and dedicated team members such as Braden to help us accomplish our mission to foster inclusion, independence and self-advocacy to the men and women of Emmaus.

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