Help Over Hurdles
Help Over Hurdles is an organization that helps the people who provide direct support to people with disabilities. Many people employed by direct care struggle to pay their bills and get back on their feet when a hurdle crosses their path, which then impacts their ability to provide the very best care they can. Help Over Hurdles was founded with the mission of getting direct support employees back on their feet to help people receiving care pursue their dreams. The execute director of Help Over Hurdles, Jen, sat down to talk about the organization and everything that they do.
1. What are the goals of Help Over Hurdles?
- To support up to 20 Direct Support Providers with financial assistance each year.
- To provide education on financial stability
- To help eliminate allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation and mistreatment toward people served as a result of direct support provider stress
2. What is your involvement in Help Over Hurdles?
I have the pleasure of serving as Executive Director of Help Over Hurdles. A lot of what that entails is connecting with folks, either to get the word out, or by interacting directly with the recipient.
3. How did you get involved in the organization?
Dr. Lucy Klym asked me to join in the very beginning stages and I’ve been privileged to stay on ever since.
4. How did you originally get involved with working with special needs?
About 11 or 12 years ago, I volunteered for a Prom honoring those with disabilities. At the tux/dress fitting, I met David. He had recently beaten cancer and was slowly beginning to venture back out into the real world. He happened to be non-verbal, have autism, OCD and a few other things, but I didn’t know or understand any of that. All I knew was that we were immediately besties and I had had the honor of being his Prom date. I later became a natural support to David, but I didn’t know the language behind any of that… he was just my friend. We watched movies together, bonded over our love of Golden Girls (Sophia was his favorite), went to sporting events, church, out to eat, etc. Hanging out with David made me realize how much I loved the disability field, and thus, began my career calling.
David ended up passing away 4 years ago. Aside from the passing of grandparents, David’s death was the first time I had lost someone I deeply cared about. He accepted me as I was, flaws and all, and I accepted him as he was. It was true friendship. Pretty much everything I do for those with disabilities, I do in honor of him.
5. What is your favorite part about the organization?
One of my favorite parts of HOH is that everyone involved either is or has been a DSP. We all still work in the field in various capacities. My other favorite part is that we’re all volunteers. None of us get paid to do this – it’s a side gig for all of us – we simply do it because we care. Being surrounded by such an intelligent, gifted group of women who want nothing more than to see others succeed is humbling.
6. Is there anything specific that you want to promote about the organization? (events, things offered, etc.)
Our next fundraising event will be help August 6th (Hurdle Day) at Buffalo Wild Wings in Fishers, Indiana. Please like our Facebook page for more updates.
7. What is your favorite success story from working with Help Over Hurdles?
I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite, as they’re all deeply personal to each recipient. But there’s been a few where we’re helped keep the electric on in winter; purchase toiletries and food for a single mom and her kids; ensured a DSP with cancer received proper nutrition to literally help keep her alive; given a DSP gas cards so she and her nieces and nephews could say their goodbye to her father; and we’re currently in the process of helping a DSP refurnish after a fire destroyed everything. (You can also read a little bit more about our success stories at our website – www.HelpOverHurdles.com. )
8. What are some of the best stats about Help Over Hurdles?
To date, we’ve helped 15 individuals and given away $3,000. While this may not sound like a lot, we’ve managed to do this with almost no marking. The need for financial assistance in the DSP community will always outweigh the funds, but you can help in that regard. There is a link on our website where folks can donate.
9. Anything else that you would like to share with our community?
- The Indiana General Assembly recently declined to increase Medicaid Waiver rates, which would have in turn, allowed Indiana DSP’s to make on average, $15 an hour. According to a recent study conducted by MIT, the living wage in Indiana for a single person is $11.07 an hour. If you add two kids to the mix, suddenly the living wage is $27.61, with the poverty level beginning at $9.99.
The need for quality, trained and well paid DSP’s is high, and will only continue to grow.
Even though the 2019 budget has already wrapped up, the need to educate Indiana Senators, and the Family and Social Services Administration department is still critical. As Help Over Hurdles continues to fight for higher DSP wages, I would encourage all of your readers to do the same.
Social Media Intern
Emma is a student-athlete at Purdue University majoring in Kinesiology and on the cross country and track and field teams. She has been involved in the special needs community for many years as a coach with Special Olympics Minnesota, and as a personal care assistant/respite sitter. She has worked in media, marketing, and journalism with various organizations. When Emma has some free time, she enjoys riding horses (she grew up doing barrel racing), baking doughnuts and cake pops (yum!), pursuing her new art interest (wood burning, painting, or drawing), or going for a long run in sunny weather (her favorite!).