St. Cloud, Florida – My name is Karyl Darigan and I have the honor of working for Bishop Grady Villas. I’ve been here almost 4 years but my story actually goes back to 2004 when the Villas opened. My little sister Cindy came to live here on January 4, 2004. She was here for 10 years until she needed to move to a nursing care facility. She was one of only a few when the Villas opened. As my parents aged they were concerned about finding a place for Cindy to be taken care of in case anything happened to them. As it happened, my father passed away just a few months later. Although my mother lived for a number of years after that, and came often to visit, she knew that in Bishop Grady Cindy had found a home. What made that possible were the wonderful men and women, the Direct Support Professionals that worked here. They were loving and patient and helpful to all the residents. There was always an atmosphere of love and acceptance that was felt by the residents and families alike. They took care of each resident’s needs and even as the facility grew, that never stopped. We knew that Cindy was safe and cared for. Cindy passed away in 2017 but the Villas remained close to my heart.
In 2018 when I retired from my career in retail, I came here to volunteer. When I came in I was told that there were part time positions available and that I should apply. I have to say when I walked into the office that day I felt as though I had come home. I began working as a Companion, taking the residents out into the community three times a week. As time went on I started helping out in the villas assisting with the daily needs of the residents. I have seen the need for this facility both as a family member and as a member of the staff. My job has grown from part time to full time due to the dire need for DSP’s. The entire industry is in trouble with an annual turnover rate of over 50%. The shortage here has been so critical that in the past year and a half I have been working an average of 80 hours a week, sometimes as much as 90 hours. The need for what we do is growing, yet there are less and less of us. People need to live, and they need to be paid fairly for what they do. We are caring for human beings that depend solely on us to give them assistance with their everyday needs, yet the pay does not reflect that in the least. It’s a shame that getting a job at a fast food restaurant pays more than what most DSP’s make. Please consider that need and understand that we would not be here if we did not love what we do and whom we care for, despite the pay. Again, we are asking for fair and equitable compensation for caring for our residents. No matter the amount of love DSP’s have for what they do, they need to be able to afford to live and pay their bills. We very much appreciate your consideration.