This story was published by The Caring Force as part of their "Workforce Hero Spotlight" series.
The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our June TCF Hero Spotlight honoree is Devon Brown from Advocates! Devon spoke at our tenth annual Caring Force Rally and discussed the impact of student loan debt on the human service sector. Devon is a compassionate and dedicated human services professional who has been in the field since 2002. The Caring Force would like to thank Devon for speaking at the rally and being dedicated to Advocates’ clients.
How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?
“In the summer of 2002, on a break from college, I was offered a temporary job with Seven Hills working as one of their day habilitation workers as a summer intern. I previously had absolutely no experience in the field, and was slightly terrified at the start. Very quickly that summer, I fell in love with the work. I realized that this was what I was meant to do and I have been in the field, specifically in the day habilitation setting, ever since.
That fall, I was hired full time as an Activities Specialist, which was a direct support position, then was promoted to Case Manager. From there, I became a supervisor and then was promoted to the position of Program Coordinator. After leaving Seven Hills in 2016, I joined Advocates that same year as a Program Manager in the day habilitation program.”
What is your favorite professional memory?
“One of the memories that remains with me is the moment a photo was taken by an individual with Cerebral Palsy with limited physical ability. One of his greatest features is his smile. During a photography group, he was given the opportunity to shoot photographs using adapted equipment. He had a camera mounted to his wheelchair tray which was activated by a jelly switch. When asked if he wanted to take my picture, he smiled from ear to ear. Over the course of the minute or so that it took for him to move his arm to snap the picture, I was awed by the amount of concentration and effort it took for him to complete the task. I still have that picture and in it, I am looking at him in awe of his effort, his pride and his joy. It’s a simple memory that I will always cherish and it had a profound effect on me.”
Why is it personally important to you to see higher wages and/or student loan repayment for human service workers?
“This issue is personally important to me because it affects the quality of life for all involved. With regard to the individuals we serve, higher wages/less debt for their staff, including student loan repayment, would foster more conducive to longevity and a more diversified workforce in the field. This allows for those staff to not have to move on to another job or take on additional jobs to ultimately just scrape by financially. The individuals with whom we work deserve nothing less than a dedicated and qualified team on their side.”
Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?
“If you had the power to effect change in some area, what would it be and why?”
Thank you to Devon and all the other tireless staff helping to provide services to clients and families throughout the pandemic. You are the Commonwealth’s human services heroes!