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Direct Support Professionals Week- Spotlight on Sandra Strider

3-Direct-Support 3Sandra Strider takes Vocational Opportunities in the Community (VOC) participant, Danny Millikan, to the Randolph Mall in Asheboro every day. But, unlike most people, they don’t go to see the latest fashions or to buy new shoes, they go to walk.

Millikan, who is non-verbal, loves to be active and when Strider, his developmental specialist, first started working with him she agreed the mall would the perfect place to take him to walk. Now they go almost every day and the mall staff all know him, many of them stopping to talk to him as he makes his rounds each day.

Strider started working at VOC in January of this year. Being from Asheboro, she first heard about the program through her guardianship of someone who attended the day program. She didn’t initially think about a career there because she had been working at Goodyear for many years.

When it came time for a change though, she decided to start substituting at the program, and that is how she first met Millikan forming a close friendship with him. In February, she became his full-time developmental specialist.

Bunny Schoolcraft, site manager at VOC, said that Millikan and Strider’s relationship is a special bond. “Danny doesn't talk, but he speaks with his eyes when he sees Sandra. I have had people call me from the community that also walk at the mall, and tell me what a wonderful job Sandra does with Danny. Monarch, Danny and VOC are very fortunate to have Sandra's positive spirit and dedication. She truly makes a difference every day,” Schoolcraft said.

Strider said Danny’s safety and happiness are her first concern.

“When he’s happy, he laughs and gets faster. People who have jobs like this have to have patience and understanding. This is not a day- by- day thing, it’s minute- by- minute,” Strider said.  

For her, the most rewarding part of her job is “every afternoon knowing he has achieved and done well. When Danny’s happy, I’m happy.”

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