Jacksonville, Florida – Meet DSP Tamara Foster of Pine Castle
Direct Support Professionals are a vital part of our community, our organization, and the workforce at large. The people who fill this important role make immeasurable differences in the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental differences. We must compensate these hard-working and dedicated team members in a way that supports them in their careers, is competitive, and enables them to be successful.
Travis grew up volunteering on Pine Castle’s campus and came on board as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) five years ago. After becoming a DSP, Travis quickly became interested in the day-to-day operations of the Wood Shop, which is operated by participants with differences and produces more than a million wooden stakes annually. Travis consistently works hard and does more than is required of his role, proving himself to be an asset to our organization and our participants.
For the past year, Travis has been training to manage Pine Castle’s Wood Shop and has excelled at a pace his mentor, Wood Shop Manager George Brodmerkel, could not have anticipated. He has worked incredibly hard to learn the many skills needed to run the shop, and now leads the daily activities of the program and supervises its participants. He has mastered the fork lift and lumber truck (arriving early to unload 6,000 lb. lumber deliveries in under 30 minutes), is able to do significant equipment maintenance, and handles nearly all of the computer and clerical work for the department, including participant payroll. To top it off, the customers love the great service he provides.
“Travis really runs the shop now,” states Brodmerkel. “I have trained a lot of people in my 34 years at Pine Castle, but he has really taken initiative in a way that no one else has. Travis is better than having a right-hand man. I hope when I retire in a few months that he will be able to take my place.”
Travis also supports Pine Castle’s participants who work in the Wood Shop. He leads them in a positive environment, being stern when needed, but always fair. He regularly sits with individual participants and listens to them, learning about their personal and work struggles, and providing guidance wherever possible. He empowers each person to do their best in and out of the shop.
Travis’s passion for the individuals he serves and for the work they complete together in the Wood Shop are evident in the dedication he has shown over the past year and his growth as a member of the Pine Castle team.
Travis is just one of thousands of DSPs in Florida who are doing this vital work to help adults with differences to be more successful, reach their goals, and integrate into their communities.