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By Scott Jester/ROC, 10/31/22 5:31 PM

HOPE, AR – Look up the definitions of dutiful and dependable and while you’re in the D’s, look up devoted. All three terms are character traits which Direct Support Professional Tonya Vickers possesses. They enable her to navigate a successful career with Rainbow of Challenges.

Vickers is respected among her ROC peers and supervisors not only serving her own client every week but making herself available when others need a temporary replacement. Without thinking about it, she employs those three “D” words every day.

Born in 1975 to Odis and the late Bobbie Vickers in Hope, she’s from a big family with four sisters and two brothers. For life growing up in such a large group, the bonds were and are still close and strong.

“We’ve always been a tight family,” Vickers says in a terrific interview. “We still have Sunday dinners every so often and on all the holidays we try and get together.

“I’d say we had great parents,” she continues. “They raised us the right way and helped us know right from wrong. They would correct us and let us know the consequences of our actions.”

The younger Vickers was blessed with mentors in her life beginning with her own brother.

“My brother was and is a preacher, so he would always let us (siblings) know what we should be doing or how we were dressing,” she smiles while reminiscing. “And we may have laughed at some of it back then, it stayed with us.

“Now, I’m a missionary in my church and I thank my brother for that.”

So, to transfer to Vickers present day, she is equipped with skills and the tools in her life’s toolbox that fit her well as a Direct Support Professional with ROC.

Vickers worked for various fast-food establishments before discovering opportunities at ROC and originally accepted a position in the ROC kitchen.

Vickers later moved into her current position as a Direct Support Professional and working with a primary client during the week.

“I love the individual I work with,” Vickers says with a smile. “I have been with her for so long that she is like family to me.”

As in any personal arrangement where care is given to another, many times situations can temporarily re-arrange that arrangement.  Vickers says that staying calm can be a pretty easy fix.

“It’s been kind of easy for me to do this job really,” she says. “Even when my individual is having a bad day, I have learned to fit myself in around her mood. It was really important to learn in my initial training to not change up routines if you can. We tried to continue what the other staff was already doing.

“And now when I train someone, I make sure to get them focused on that same routine so it remains consistent,” Vickers states.

She depends on the remaining team members to properly provide 24-hour care for their individual.

“It’s just so important that we all are doing pretty much the same things each day for each shift,” Vickers says. “We are all really close now and everyone knows what to do and when.”

Everybody sure stays happier that way.

For Vickers, her workday doesn’t necessarily end after her regular workday. She makes herself available when other areas need fill-in help. It’s just another way that she is a terrific example of what makes a DSP position rewarding.  How does she find the time?

“My kids are grown now and so it’s just me at home and if I get a call needing me, I always want to help. I try not to let it get in the way of my church and the work there, but I do love my job too and want to help out whenever I can.”

Vickers has been with ROC long enough to have seen a lot. Then went through the worst of the COVID era at ROC and the repercussions of a depleted workforce.

“I understand the situation right now and everyone is so short handed,” she states. “So, if I can help out, I don’t mind going in.”

Vickers is quick to note that with each individual the DSPs serve, they give a little piece of their heart to that individual.  (See “devotion” from the top).

“When I come in and work with our individuals, I want to treat them how I would want to be treated,” she says referring to the golden rule.

It works for everyone.

And, before they know it, the DSP and client are just like family.

“I love working with people,” she says easily. “I love working with all of them. I guess I have a heart for them.”

Her work peers would all agree, Vickers is a perfect example of what makes up a first-rate DSP.

“Tonya’s work ethic speaks for itself,” remarked ROC Community Service Coordinator Shelby Rivard.

Rivard works very closely with Vickers and other employees when trying to fill shift gaps which pop up frequently since COVID.

“She is a team player and is always down to help anyone in need,” Rivard continues. “She is reliable and sets a great example for others.

“She has truly played a crucial part in her client’s well-being and mental health by caring and showing compassion. We are so lucky that Tonya is part of our ROC family,” Rivard concludes.

A Rainbow of Challenges DSP will always be seen out in the public with their client. From Walmart, to McDonald’s, to Hempstead Hall, be encouraged to simply walk up to them and just say “thanks for what you do”. Say hi to their client while you’re at it. It will make everyone’s day better. Sort of like a win-win-win.

Rainbow of Challenges, Inc. (ROC) is a private, non-profit, community-based provider of a vast array of support and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Rainbow of Challenges is an equal opportunity provider and employer.