This DSP Earned a Well-Deserved KenCrest Award
Lead DSP Kelechi Nwaogu earned an Exploring Possibilities Mission Pin for his dedication to supporting people with IDD.
By Sydney Kerelo
When Kelechi Nwaogu started working at KenCrest in 2019, he had one goal: to ensure that each person he supported with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) had the best life possible. And since that day, he has done just that.
KenCrest’s mission is to support community development by exploring possibilities, mobilizing resources, and empowering dreams. Whether that’s helping people suffering from Tuberculosis—like KenCrest did in 1905—to assist those with an IDD to live a meaning-filled, independent life. For 118 years, the organization has supported thousands of people achieve their dreams thanks to the help of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) like Nwaogu.
“My dad was an Anglican pastor, and we are trained to give back, to support life irrespective of circumstance,” says Nwaogu. “We were taught to do unto others as you wish they do to you, which is what drives me. Anytime I go to work, I thank God for allowing me to serve and to give somebody a reason to live and be happy.”
“As Christians, we are taught to do certain things because we have this belief that God is watching us, and if we are cheating the system at work with people with disabilities, then we are hurting them,” adds Nwaogu. “They are human beings like us and deserve all the same experiences.”
In September 2023, Nwaogu was awarded an Exploring Possibilities mission pin for his incredible work, giving those he supports the best life possible. KenCrest’s Mission Pins are designed to encourage and celebrate how KenCrest staff members exemplify the organization’s mission and bring it to life through everyday actions. Three pins can be awarded: Exploring Possibilities, Mobilizing Resources, and Empowering Dreams. These pins are earned through contributions, initiatives, ingenuity, creativity, support, generosity, and so on towards the people we support or the organization.
To earn the Exploring Possibilities mission pin, a KenCrest employee must find creative solutions to challenges and obstacles that keep the organization from helping those we support to achieve a meaningful life. And Nwaogu did that in many ways and earned his mission pin as an honor for his fantastic work.
As a lead DSP in one of KenCrest’s behaviorally challenging community living homes, Nwaogu has tremendously transformed the lives of each person he supports.
Each day, he begins their morning by playing music that the person he is supporting that day enjoys, and then he will prepare them for a shower, then they will eat breakfast, and even take a walk around the neighborhood.
“I always say to them, ‘It’s a beautiful day; today is going to be a wonderful day, and they wake up smiling and in a good mood,” he says. “If you engage with them and do daily activities with them, you no longer see them as clients, where you’re just clocking in and out. These activities create bonds, and your job will not be a burden; it will be exciting to go to work and do the right thing with them by your side.”
After breakfast, he will take them for a walk around the neighborhood or even a 30-minute drive through the city to get outdoors and explore the community. In the summer months, when the weather permits, Nwaogu even encourages the people he supports to help him with his weekly cleaning of the KenCrest van. And they love it.
“I like washing it myself, and each of our houses has water and things we can wash with, so I will bring the individual outside with me, and we will wash the van together. Even if the person is in a wheelchair, they can also participate. I will give them the hose, and they can spray the van, which excites them,” laughs Nwaogu. “They’re still participating in an activity, doing something outside, getting some fresh air, or getting out into nature.”
From his own experiences with his family, Nwaogu realized at a young age that life is constantly changing. What happens today may not happen tomorrow. At one point in his life, he was taking care of his mother after she was paralyzed, and he had to help her live her new normal. He grew up understanding that every person at one point in their life may need extra help and that there are ways to get that help while still living a fulfilling life.
And he continues to push that dedication and passion onto his three boys so that they live by those same standards and continue to help people.
“When I received the mission pin award, I was so excited,” says Nwaogu. “I used it to encourage my family. When I went home, I showed my wife and kids; they were so proud. I said, ‘You see? Daddy was recognized because Daddy works hard. So hard work pays.’