Michael Guess – An Award-Winning Direct Support Professional | Emmaus Homes

As we’ve recently announced, for the second year in a row, an Emmaus team member has won ANCOR American Network of Community Options and Resources‘ 2022 Direct Support Professional of the Year Award for Missouri! Find out how Mike embodies the Emmaus mission by reading his full nomination letter below…


Mike has a genuine interest and commitment to the gentlemen he supports and has demonstrated this by making his focus the success and happiness of the men. He provides individualized support which enhances their personal lives.

Mike supports his team members by being innovative and taking initiative in new projects for the men, and he is flexible, despite his busy personal life, always ensuring the individuals in the house have a familiar face to support them. Mike goes above and beyond for his team and the men he supports.


One of the gentlemen Mike supports was discouraged when COVID kept him from his yearly trip to camp. The team brainstormed ideas and when a trip to Branson, MO was decided on, Mike was ready and willing to make the trip a reality. In order to plan a successful trip, Mike had to organize each step of the trip. Mike sat down with the client (and the team) and went over the options of attractions, places to eat, and what fun activities that he (the client) would like to participate in.

This was not only for planning purposes for Mike, but also knowing that a firm plan would help ease some anxiety and promote a less anxious experience. During the trip, Mike made sure there were many pictures taken and documented the date and times of the events, which allowed him to return home with fresh memories and a guideline for a story they both wouldn’t forget.

This was not just a vacation, this was an opportunity that this specific gentleman never imagined would ever happen again in his life, due to his personal needs, and thanks to Mike, this was a dream come true!

Building Relationships:

Mike created an email account specifically for one of the men so he could keep in touch with an old friend. Mike also encourages phone calls and has attempted many visits for another gentleman to talk with and see his old friends (COVID has made this challenging).

Mike takes the time to go on routine outings to ensure the men he supports can talk to their neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. For example, when one of the men attends his equestrian program, he is not simply riding horses, he talks to other riders and employees of the equestrian program.

Mike encourages this gentleman to speak with his “friends”, as Mike realizes how important it is. When the gentlemen were going bowling and made friends with two ladies, on future visits, Mike arranged for the men to leave earlier for the bowling trips so that they would have extra time to chat with their new friends!


While we (Emmaus) are in the middle of a staffing crisis, Mike does not become discouraged when he is asked to change his scheduled hours or work back-to-back shifts. In one instance, the power in the home went out due to a storm. Mike met the team at the hotel to help with preparing meals, taking the gentleman to the pool, and assisted the other staff with individuals from other homes. Mike also comes up with fun cooking ideas, barbecuing, and picnic ideas, while including the gentlemen in each step of the planning process.

For example, the one gentleman receives venison from a friend, and Mike looks up recipes and prepares the meat, specific to his diet needs. Mike shares the recipes with his team. In addition to Mike’s exceptional client care and advocacy, Mike has recently expressed interest in learning a leadership role.

Mike is now working with his supervisor to learn the medical documentation process, scheduling, and presenting as more of a leader in the home. At the same time, a fellow team member for the home had to take unexpected leave and Mike is now stepping up to assist the manager during his team member’s absence.

Mike (left) with 2021 ANCOR DSP of the Year Natasha Archie (right)


Tablets were purchased for the gentlemen Mike supports. While others did not consider the tablets necessary, Mike took the initiative to register and set up the new technology items for the men.

Mike created new accounts, set up their emails, and assisted with games and helped them learn each of the items. In addition, Mike thought “outside the box” with one gentleman and his phone usage. The individual likes to use the phone to call his supports. Mike found a phone for him that displays large picture buttons, which was key in teaching him to use the new phone. Unfortuntely, once the phone came in, the jacks in the home were not compatible.

Rather than saying “it does not work”, Mike looked up adaptive pieces to incorporate the new phone to work with the current phones in the home. Mike went above and beyond, as many would not have even considered such a device would even be possible and would have let it go.

Mike (right) with Emmaus President & CEO Cindy Clark (middle) and 2021 DSP of the Year Natasha Archie (left)

Other Accomplishments:

The supported living setting often requires work to be completed outside of the scope of a DSP’s job description. Mike is often creative in filling his day with tasks, but always ensures the gentleman are engaged. Mike noticed there were some things that needed tending to in the front yard. Mike took the initiative to help clean up the outside of the home.

He took it upon himself to cut bushes that were growing into the home and clean up the landscaping around the home. This was something that the gentleman could not personally participate in, but they did enjoy watching him work super hard and sweat his heart out for them and their home. This gave the men great pride in their home, their neighborhood, and their community.

For just having joined Emmaus over two years ago, Mike has been instrumental in supporting his clients and team members. Mike serves as a mentor to his colleagues and advocates on behalf of people with developmental disabilities. Find your passion and live your purpose by joining Mike and becoming a Direct Support Professional at Emmaus. This is your chance to grow alongside those who need you most! Find an open position near you by clicking the button below.

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