Employee Spotlight: Meet Beth Hopkins, a Dedicated Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Aspire of WNY!

At Aspire of WNY, our Supported Volunteering and Lifestyle Enrichment (SVLE) program plays a key role in our mission to help support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to realize their full potential and live as independently as possible by encouraging engagement with the local community through volunteerism and other community inclusion opportunities.

One of the central figures behind this program is Beth Hopkins, a dedicated Direct Support Professional (DSP) who has been with our agency for over ten years.

Beth’s journey with Aspire of WNY began in an unexpected place. Working at a nursing home, Beth encountered individuals supported by Aspire of WNY who volunteered through the SVLE program at her workplace. There, she met her current team leader, Liane Agro, Coordinator of Day Service Opportunities at Aspire of WNY, and her interest in working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities was sparked. This unexpected encounter changed her career path and brought her to Aspire of WNY, where she has made a significant impact.

“I love my job. At my old job, I sometimes felt like the grass would be greener on the other side. Now, the grass is greener, and I plan on staying at the agency until I retire,” Beth says.

SVLE is the perfect fit for Beth’s spunky and energetic personality. “I don’t like to stay in one spot all day. I like to keep moving and working, and I like my whole day to be full and fun.” She emphasizes the importance of creativity in her role, creating activities that individuals will enjoy, whether it be crafts, music, or other activities.

Beth emphasizes that no two days are the same in SVLE. “Every day at SVLE looks different. Every day we volunteer, but there’s also lots of recreational time. The individuals we support get to choose what they want to do each day.” From park outings, waterfront trips, and gym visits in the summer to store trips and holiday crafts in the winter, Beth and the individuals she supports are constantly on the move.

One of Beth’s most special experiences at Aspire of WNY involved Joe, an individual whom she supports. Recently, Joe had to say goodbye to his beloved dog. Beth helped him research and find a rescue dog. In an unexpected turn of events, Beth ended up adopting a dog from the same rescue, going to pick up her dog an hour after Joe’s dog was dropped off to him. “We laugh about that a lot; I was not supposed to be getting a dog,” Beth recalls. They now train their dogs together, with Beth passing on tips from puppy school to Joe for his dog!

Beth’s passion for her work shines through in everything that she does. “It’s very rewarding. I’m in it because I love the individuals we get to support here; I love being out with them. They’re adding to your day, and you get to add to theirs. We have lots of fun,” She acknowledges that the job comes with its own unique challenges. “You must have patience, time skills, and a good sense of humor. Every day can’t be perfect because there are days when it’s not.”

Among the many individuals Beth supports, she shares a special bond with one individual, Mallory. Not only do they get to volunteer together at SVLE, but they are also neighbors. “She knows my family, she yells hello to my husband, and we even work out together in and outside of the program, seeing who can do more steps or pushups. She usually wins, though,” explains Beth. 

Whether volunteering at Meals on Wheels, Sisters Hospital, the Goodness Project, or the Family Health Center, Beth and her colleagues help individuals supported by Aspire of WNY learn new skills, form friendships, and enjoy community participation. “You not only become their staff but their friend and their confidant,” explains Beth.

“Beth is my longest-standing employee in SVLE! She is professional and fun and treats every single person like family! SVLE would not be the program it is without the hard work and dedication that Beth puts in every day! A true gift and role model to all in SVLE-Erie,” says Liane Agro, Coordinator of Day Services Opportunities at Aspire of WNY.

Beth’s favorite part of her job? “Hanging out with my people!” Beth’s journey at Aspire of WNY is a perfect example of what it means to make an IMPACT, one day at a time! Thank you, Beth, for all you do for our agency and the individuals we support!